Random Rants and A Possibly Good Thing

I don’t get this obsession with knowing every little detail of a terrible thing. For example, I do not wish to know the intimate details of the recent death of a loved one. I don’t want to know how badly he suffered or how awful it was. I know how awful it was: it’s why I keep crying. So please stop trying to tell me. This is not idle gossip. I did not wish to know every brutal detail of how my cousin died of melanoma a few years ago, but I was told – by many sources and even after asking them not to tell me. Now I have to live with this mental image of his final moments as he succumbed to respiratory failure.

So yeah, as you can tell I haven’t been having a great time of it. Everything is seriously fucked up in my kingdom and therefore I haven’t been up to blagging. I have mostly been trying to fix the unfixable – a process very much like voluntarily and repeatedly slamming one’s head into a wall (and in my case, while the house is being firebombed). As a result I’ve been in a right shite mood, and every little thing is setting me off.

The meaning is yours to experience and discern.

For example, I am so frelling sick of Hollywood making shitty movie versions of really good books. It irks the shiz out of me, but there’s not much for me to do about it but rant. Rant rant rant. I’m sorry but I like the way the story looks inside my head. I am not the kind of reader who hunts down all the interviews of their favorite authors trying to figure out what they were going for. I don’t believe that this is the point of literature. I believe it is like art – paintings, for example – where the artist composes the picture, applies the details and takes you to that other world. What that other world is like is now a construct of your mind. The meaning is yours to experience and discern.

The writer gave me all the information I needed to build their world, to live in it, experience it and feel it. If the information was good it will have a transforming effect; it will make an impact, resonate, and take hold. That’s why I read books. I do not read books so that directors can interpret them as they see fit and then build stunted visual interpretations of them that will forever taint them and compromise their integrity.

(I’m looking at you Joseph Gordon Levitt).

My dresser.

My dresser.

Sometimes I feel like perhaps I’m doing therapy wrong

I’m also super ticked because a lot of really awesome events are happening in my area that I would love to go to, but I can’t because of my crippling panic disorder. Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman will be doing a musical/reading event with a bunch of other artists and musicians in honor of Ms. Palmer’s upcoming book release. The New Pornographers have been oot and aboot. Various book events and cons. Just so many things I would love to see. But I can’t because I’m a fracking mental case.

Sometimes I feel like perhaps I’m doing therapy wrong or it doesn’t work the way I think it’s supposed to. Or perhaps it doesn’t really work at all. Anyway, everyone’s answer to my issues outside of the medical/therapeutic fields is generally ‘take something and get over it’.

I find it amusing how people who have never had issues like mine or who have never been on any sort of medication have the attitude of ‘just take a pill’ and shrug, as if that’s all it takes to make the shittiest parts of your life just go away. But they have no idea how the medication works, how your brain works and what goes into both the disorder and the medication. (Let me say right now that I think it’s disturbing how little the average person knows about how their own body works.)

Popping a pill is just not that simple. And don’t you think that with this whole nightmare that I go through on a regular basis, that I’d have done that already if that’s all it took? Trust me; I’m not a glutton for punishment.

 banana books

In interesting and non-shitty news, this week I got an intriguing email. I had submitted a portfolio to a charity that was looking for artists to make and donate work for an auction in December. This is sort of a big deal, both the charity and the auction. Plus it’s a cause that is really important to me.

Anyway, the other night I get an email from the committee or whoever that decides these things, and they loved my portfolio and want my stuff. Not only that, but, along with my portfolio I sent a proposal highlighting three options for what I could create for them, and they want all three. So they want at least (and they stressed the ‘least’ bit) five of each thing, all in less than a month.

I went into this thing thinking that it wasn’t just a long shot, but that I’d never get picked at all. But here I am, more than a tad shocked and excited. So I’ma gonna be crazy busy, what with NaNoWriMo, an art competition with a local art shop (for a much needed supply prize package), and now this. So it’s very likely that this will be my last blaggins for a while. Which is fine by you, I’m quite sure.

So with that I take my leave of you. Enjoy yet another musical road map, provided by the Psychic MP3 Player.

Portugal. The man – Everything You See (All the Kids Say Hallelujah)
St. Vincent – The Neighbors
St. Vincent – Black Rainbow
Lykke Li – I’m Good, I’m Gone
The New Pornographers – Failsafe
The New Pornographers – Go Places
The National – Conversation 16
Grizzly Bear – Ready, Able
Lou Reed – Andy’s Chest
MGMT – The Youth
Guided by Voices – The Future is in Eggs
Portishead – The Rip
Zoe Keating – Forest
Fleet Foxes – The Cascades
The Kinks – Who’ll Be the Next in Line
Say Hi (To Your Mom) – Toil and Trouble

P.S. I’m trying out a new theme. If it’s disgustingly pretentious, please let me know. I don’t mean to be, I swear.

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NaNoWriMo and Brain Leakage

I’ve decided to take a break from my weird life shits and discuss something of great and ill-advised import: I’m finally going to give NaNoWriMo a go. For many years it has been my intention to participate, but something always thwarts it. Although, really, that something has generally been me: I typically am too busy, forget when it starts, or just forget it exists altogether. Forgetting is a skill at which I excel.

But this year due to a series of badness culminating in my taking a semester off for the first time in three years (including summer breaks), I’m jumping in. I am not sure what I’m going to write though, which I guess is a big ‘oh shit’ thing in the NaNoWriMo world. Most people spend the year preparing for this like you would a marathon. Many have outlines, titles, plotlines, character profiles – everything ready to go come 12 a.m. November 1st. I’m not like that. I don’t really know what I’m going to do.

That’s not to say that I don’t have options or whatnot. I have a notebook full of story ideas that I draw from and add to frequently. So I’m set for something to write about, I just haven’t picked yet. I’m not sure if I should choose one I’ve been mulling over for a bit, contemplate something from the idea book or go completely random and pull one from a hat.

I took the semester off – as in started classes and then withdrew when life became too overwhelming – because of the stress, but also because my migraines are back. With a vengeance. I had successfully whittled them down to one every once in a while, and now I have been having them every day for weeks straight. And there really isn’t anything I can do about them other than take this medicine that doesn’t make it better so much as make me sleepy and weird. Sleepy and weird with my brain leaking out my eyes and ears. It’s crazy frustrating. I can’t read or go online like I’d normally do. I have so much to do and am just unable. Did I mention that my migraines are vertiginous? Yeah, so that’s fun. Now I think that maybe I’m setting myself up for failure with this NaNoWriMo thing. Glutton for punishment am I.

 

Arts

I’ve been encouraged to do art-type things on a more frequent basis, studio access or not, to help me deal with my current shituation. So I got this tiny Moleskine knockoff. It’s roughly 3” x 4” and I’ve been trying to scribble in it at least once a day.

In the midst of my grandfather chaos, my uncle, aunt and father have been having this sibling painting competition. Meaning they’ve been painting in these Barbie watercolor books with my nearly three year old cousin, and have decided my art degree qualifies me as judge. It also apparently qualifies my uncle to make snide little comments about my being unemployed. This is a thing with this particular uncle. I couldn’t list the bullshit immature crap he’s pulled on me since I’ve been born. No, that list would take many blog entries. He likes to take little digs at me for no reason. Literally no reason; he would say mean and nasty things to me and about me when I was a TODDLER. The man is immature as fuck. Even in his 50s.

He spent a few days using my art degree as an excuse to make little digs, implying that I’m so bad at art I can’t get employed. So I whipped out my tiny sketchbook that I have been keeping on me at all times, and his wife snatched it up and dropped her jaw. ‘CAUSE I CAN FUKKIN ART. “That’s how it’s done son.” I declared, thus slightly smiting him in front of his laughing wife, sister, brother, mother, nephew, teenage daughter and one of his teen sons.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the pencil.

So that’s all I got. Next time perhaps I’ll regale you with tales of amusing librarians, and tell you what it’s like to cry in the basement of a house that is falling over.

Until then, please enjoy this Andrew Bird playlist, composed by my psychic MP3 player just for this occasion.

 

The Psychic MP3 Player Presents: A strictly Andrew Bird Assortment

  1. Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses
  2. Anonanimal
  3. Polynation
  4. Happy Birthday Song
  5. Hover I
  6. Far From Any Road (Be My Hand)
  7. The Giant of Illinois (Dark Was the Night version)
  8. Orpheo
  9. Unfolding Fans
  10. Desperation Breeds…
  11. Tin Foiled
  12. Near Death Experience
  13. If I Needed You
  14. Grinnin’ In Your Face (Fingerlings 3 version)
  15. Pulaski At Night
  16. Cathedral in the Dell
  17. Fitz and Dizzyspells
  18. Frogs Singing

Addiction, Depression and How Not To Blog

I have succumbed to a terrible, terrible addiction. “CURSE YOU DUNKIN’ DONUTS!” For those of you who don’t know – because you live on one of those rare Saturnine moons that is devoid of a Dunks – Dunkin’ Donuts is a coffee and doughnuts chain that has insidiously seeped from the American North East across the continent and into the universe. Yeah, they have doughnuts, as the name implies, but they mostly do a business in beverages – coffees and cocoa and frozen dealies. Dunks runs are a staple around here, and since I don’t like coffee, I usually end up with the occasional Chai or cocoa (depending on the level of gutrot I can handle that morning). Well now they’ve introduced ‘fresh brewed iced green tea’ to their menu and DEAR GLOB. It’s not fair.

And it’s really tea, too. It’s UNSWEETENED and COMES WITH REAL LEMON WEDGES IN IT. Seriously. I love tea, and iced tea, but I have to make it myself because I hate stuff in it. I like it bitter, and strong. Like my soul. So I rarely get it from commercial or outside sources as it will inevitably be sweetened with HFCS, doused with preservatives and taste nothing like tea. (Don’t even get me started on ‘sweet tea’.) But now Dunks is selling it in convenient gallon sized cups with straws sticking out of it. So I’ve been downing those at an expensive and alarming rate. Sufficed to say I’m so strung that I’m left with no choice but to quit them cold turkey. If you can call purchasing a Cuppow, stainless steel straws and mason jars to start my own refrigerator iced tea production line going cold turkey. I feel so damn guilty with the whole people spending a lot of money on me to support my addiction (which is just an excuse to enable their own coffee addictions), and the waste produced by the straws and cups that I’ve had to take matters into my own hands.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you invest in a Cuppow. Not only are they awesome and help decrease waste, but they are completely U.S. made products: they are designed, created and produced out of Somerville, MA, manufactured in MA, and even their packaging is printed and designed in Somerville. So it’s sorta green and sorta local. And awesome. And I swear I’ve sung the praises of Cuppow so much that they should pay me already.

paperwhites

So now that that idiotic rant about iced tea is spent, let’s move on to more fun things. Like morbid depression. Yes folks, I am fukkin depressed. Why you ask? Well, I suspect genes, mostly. I also suspect my current life situation is just a bit… shit. So that isn’t helping anything.

Being depressed fucks things up. I mean, I’m a depressed sort as it is, but now I’m depressed on top of my normal down self. Double Depressed, as Oogie Boogie would say. This means that instead of trudging through but accomplishing things, I’m now not accomplishing much of anything. So all of my projects have been shelved, and I’m just barely reading or doing school and that’s about it. It’s maddening because I don’t want to do nothing; I really want to do things. It’s frustrating. I even broke out the new art set I got at IKEA – basically because I couldn’t be bothered to pull out my Windsor-Newton – and tried to art it up with my bargain bin watercolors, but couldn’t get into it, much to my chagrin. (Quick side note – In all honestly, if you want to see the worst of humanity, go to IKEA on a weekend.)

Now I’m pursuing drastic measures – a.k.a. therapy. This is a rather big deal for me as my past history with therapy isn’t that great. I wrote this huge, dark blag about it, but like most of what I write for here, I haven’t posted it.

It’s funny, I do that a lot. I also take things off and put things back on, or not. This is half because I just want to write and half because I don’t need the attention – like I am not writing a blog for people to even read. Does that make sense? I’m not garnering readers (although I am truly grateful for the ones I have, so long as they are genuine and not trolls or spammers trying to sell me blog-building tools), and I’m not a journalist. I just want to write. So I often question how healthy it is putting stuff out there, but then at the same time, at least I’m doing something and putting it somewhere.

So I’m probably going to post a long depressing thing about why I have issues with the mental health profession soon. But not now. Now I am going to leave you with this handy playlist and that sour taste in your mouth you get after reading one of my posts.

Grizzly Bear – The Hunt
Grizzly Bear – While You Wait For The Others (Live on KCRW)
The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon
Donovan – Sunshine Superman
Christopher Andrews – Yesterday Man
The Supremes – The Happening
The Box Tops – The Letter
Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne
Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
Cold Blood – I’m A Good Woman / Let Me Down Easy

The Unfortunate Garbage of Life: Hoarding, Couponing and Superfoods

Yeah so, today is Monday, which is apparently hoarding day on television. I don’t like that it’s seemingly okay that a mental illness is being paraded around on all of these shows just because it’s weird enough for most people to gawk at. It’s basically a freak show that we pretend isn’t. We (the general public) pretend that it’s fine to watch these people at their lowest point, falling apart, living in garbage, because we’re “helping” them; look: we’ve got them a garbage truck, a shrink and an organizer. We’re fukking saints.

It really bothers me. Not the getting help bits but the exploitation stuff.Because that’s all this really is: exploitation.

Hoarding is an interesting thing. I mean, I’m not a hoarder, but I’m a collector who has had messy moments that made me question myself and even purge my once precious loot. I don’t live alone, so my stuff isn’t distributed throughout the house. I have a teeny room that we’ve remodeled to give me the cleanest lines and the most optimal storage which resulted in sacrificing a tiny closet for a built-in unit. On top of that I have my own shed that is just a wee bit larger than my room, and it’s full of bizarre shiz. I mean really bizarre, like bags of bottle caps, stacks of pressed paper beverage trays, no-longer-salvageable jeans, and junk mail. I even have a small collection of dead bugs (primarily moths). But the shed is actually quite organized and all of those things I have because I am an artist and the shed is my studio. I like to work with repurposed or salvageable materials, so it can sometimes appear to be a mini recycling center in there, depending on what I’ve got going on.

From the outside looking in, someone would see my stuff and go ‘what the fu-‘ but never think that I was a hoarder. Unless everyone considers Martha Stewart a hoarder, because while my shed is not nearly as nice as Martha’s craft rooms, it’s probably even more obsessively organized. (I should say ‘usually’, as right now it’s more of a construction storage as it has been designated housing for the overflow from our endless home renovation.)

So, other than making me paranoid about my own things, I also find hoarding interesting because I know some hoarders. The first hoard I had ever encountered was when I was a teenager and moved to this sorta-suburb from the inner city. I became friends briefly with these girls from my new school, one of whom lived just around the block from me. She was a pseudo-intellectual with average grades, but an above-average idea about how much smarter than the rest of us she was. I may sound bitchy and bitter but I’m not; she was always making little comments here, insinuating that we were all imbeciles who were lucky to be within her orbit. Her mom was a substitute teacher in the local school system, and I believe her father was a mid level engineer. They seemed like they were a put together family and they really sort of exuded airs – if that makes any sense.

Anyway, the first time the girls and I were invited back to the smart girls’ house I was floored. Going into the enclosed front porch was like a peril from the Lord of the Rings: the room was filled floor to ceiling with stacks of newspapers and magazines. There was a narrow little pathway leading to the backdoor and into the kitchen. Navigating it was accompanied by a genuine (and realistic) fear of avalanche. Their excuse: ‘we are really passionate about recycling and the town hasn’t begun its recycling program yet.’

The kitchen was incredible. The door didn’t open all the way; there was too much garbage on the ground behind it. The place smelled moldy and chemically off all at once. Every surface, every countertop, was covered by what I could only assume was garbage. Nothing appeared functional, useable or salvageable. There were two refrigerators – both broken. They were using a cooler to keep their food. Before I could ask they told me that they ‘couldn’t replace the refrigerators yet because one of them was leaking Freon.’ To which I responded “?”

Half of the kitchen table and one chair were clear and empty. There was no treacherous path like on the porch, but the floor was littered ankle deep with trash.

The next room was a family room, with things – books, videotapes, magazines and random electronic equipment – stacked everywhere on everything, very much like the paper goods on the porch. Some of the stacks featured precariously balanced potted plants on top. There was a mostly clear couch aimed at a small television with a bunch of VCRs and Beta cassette players stacked on top (and no, this was not the 1980’s). I would later learn that only one of each worked. There was a basement room that the kids used as a game room. It was functional on one side and completely smothered in crap on the other side. It was unnerving – more potential for avalanche. The only other room I ever went into was smart-girls’. It was fairly clean and neat compared to the rest of the house. When we came over we mostly spent time in there or watching a movie on the couch.

(The other thing I remember about that house was the girl had a balalaika hanging on her bedroom wall, which I completely coveted. She said to me “I don’t know what’s wrong with it; I can’t get it to work for me.” So I tuned it and played it, and she was PISSED.)

That was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. I didn’t even know what to call it, I had never heard about hoarding before. And I suppose an argument could be made that these television shows are doing a service by educating the public. But if that was what it was all about, I’m sure they could come up with a way to do it that didn’t feature humiliating people, annoying therapists who are too aware that they are being filmed, self righteous haul-away organizers, and horror-movie like soundtracks. Back in the day however, I was completely floored. I didn’t understand how people who considered themselves to be so above everybody could think that that level of filth was acceptable to live in. I couldn’t even adequately explain it to my parents until very recently that this was why I didn’t want to go over that girls’ house anymore. At the time the concept was so out there they thought I was exaggerating.

Since then I have met two more hoarding families. This time around however, I knew what it was and how to handle myself. When I was a kid it was sort of stressful trying to remain in the situation (trust me, I wanted to leave) and be a polite guest. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t judging that family or that girl and I still don’t. I was just really taken aback and confused; I couldn’t reconcile these people and their external, intellectual image with their home. I had no context for what I was seeing. Now I get that this is a disorder, one that needs a lot of outside help and work to resolve.

I can understand hoarding to some extent. I can understand the need to seek comfort, and finding comfort in objects makes sense. You can touch material things; you can hold them and look at them. You cannot touch emotions; you cannot touch memories. What I don’t understand is the point when the hoarding leads to unsanitary conditions. When there are smells and feces and rot; when your home just deteriorates from the filth. I mean, clearly this is when it becomes severe mental illness, but one would think something deep down in your lizard brain would alert you to the health hazards.

So I guess the moral of this story is: ‘Hoarding is a mental illness that deserves our understanding and shouldn’t be exploited on television. People in pain are never casual entertainment.”

I can’t stand how channels like TLC and MTV and Discovery are such shitpiles now. Remember when the L in TLC stood for ‘learning’ and the M in MTV for ‘music’? Remember when the Discovery channel was awesome, and showed documentaries and not ‘reality’ shows about drunken hillbillies and motorcycle builders who fight? And it happens to every channel that is good. Animal Planet has shows about bounty hunters and tree house builders now. SciFi changed their name to Syfy – supposedly to incorporate fantasy (as in science fiction/fantasy) – but it plays wrestling matches. Sleuth played mysteries and then changed its name to Cloo and now plays USA reruns and castoffs (that’s when it’s not playing hours and hours of Law and Order spinoffs).

I swear, TLC makes my eyes catch fire. What the frak happened to that? They should be ashamed of themselves: Fake Gypsies and mocking trailer park families, and Rumspringa romps, hoarders and couponing.

Oh and by the way, those couponer people are assholes. Why? Well I’ll tell you. First off, hoarding food is seriously shitty, especially when something like one in six (or five depending on who is doing the counting) children in the United States goes hungry every day. I mean really. If you’re doing it for a food bank or something then good for you, but we all know that most of these people are stockpiling for themselves. Another thing that may be equally significant is this: people doing this couponing thing for sport, and this series on television documenting it and making it more popular, is making manufacturers and groceries change the rules on how they accept and distribute (and if they distribute) coupons. It’s making it harder for people who actually need coupons to stretch their very small budgets to do so. So these super couponers or whatever they call themselves are just unbelievably selfish, there really is no other word for it.

I got Ed Bighead from my local farm stand.

I got Ed Bighead from my local farm stand.

Before I go I have one more brief rant, and it’s about so-called superfoods. Just so you know superfoods are contributing to cost inflation (and unfair farming practices) of important nutrition. Groceries – and unfortunately, especially ‘health-conscious’ stores – use the term superfood as a marketing tool to inflate prices on key items. The problem is, these key items are truly as nutritious as they say they are and in many situations the new inflated costs make it so that people on a limited budget (poorer people) are unable to get them. Therefore, when at one time they were able to purchase proper, more-bang-for-your-buck foodstuffs, they now can’t afford it at all and are forced to go without proper nutrition. This is called food gentrification and you may have heard of it. The best example of this would be kale, which was primarily eaten by lower-income families, and was affordable, but since being declared a superfood has risen in price over 75%. Next on the ‘superfood’ chopping block are collard greens.

This sort of thing is done in the free market all the time – a manufacturer has a product and they reimage it in order to appeal to another, more affluent demographic. The problem is food isn’t a manufactured item. Food is a necessity for everyone despite their demographic. Food gentrification is making it so that only wealthier, or better off people, can afford to eat properly. It’s not only unfair, it’s unethical and immoral. So next time you hear of a superfood in some magazine, don’t buy it. Or, don’t buy it from a store like Whole Foods that is trying to turn a profit at the expense of people’s health. Better yet, grow it yourself or buy it directly from a local farmer or farm stand or food coop. Trust me, you’ll get better quality food, without a marketing team behind it. That alone should save you some coin per pound.

Writing Panic, Nerdfighteria, and New Knitting Jargon

Even though, logically, this would be the time when I post the next installment of the long-ass piece in which I blagged about the assets of 2013, I pull another fast one and digress yet again down a long and ridiculous tangent that has nothing to do with anything but is bothering me quite a bit. (Like that commercial in which a guy brings a flower to a date of some import, while a delectable guitar melody plays over it. Has no one noticed that the melody is in fact “Never Going Back Again” – a Fleetwood Mac song about bitterly giving up on love after a string of disastrous affairs? Seriously? What is friggin WRONG with people?)

And in that vein I refer back to my last blag post in which I mention how I’ve been knitting up a storm. And while twelve movies (make that thirteen – hello, the Breakfast Club) does fill up the time, it obviously doesn’t fill up all the time. So what else have I been watching? Well, first I went and watched all of the nerd videos I had missed this fall/winter while I was busy getting nerdier. Then, after I did that, I decided to go back in time and watch all of the early Brotherhood 2.0 videos. In order. I did this mainly because I was curious, and mainly because I was bored and knitting, and mainly because I am a fan. I mean, I watch the current videos and whatnot, but I am not an original fan. All of my DFTBA and Nerdfighting expertise came later, when I was lured in through other, related videos by Mental Floss and the like. I am not afraid to admit that; I was still at university (the first go round) and dealing with some heavy personal shit (like always) and so stuff like this got by me. This is true of other things of that time period – like Heroes, which I love and didn’t watch until years after the fact thanks to G4 and Netflix.

Now that I’ve admitted that, please don’t dump on me over it, fellow Nerdfighters. I am suffering enough knowing that too much time has gone past to bother posting replies In My Pants or otherwise when the Green Brothers need to be schooled. Maybe when I complete my time travel device, I can tell Hank that the Harry Potter series is popular in a way that hasn’t been seen since L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Yes, it’s true: the Land of Oz was an epic commercial success that no one had seen the likes of before or until Rowling dropped her recycled saga on us. I could also fill the Brothers in on the equally epic Ninjas versus Pirates wars that went on at my college campus. Wars involving found vintage pornography and kites.

Anyway, so here I am knitting feverishly and watching John and Hank when I am struck by two unsettling things. The first being: as I watch John I can’t get the fact that this is the same guy who wrote The Fault In Our Stars out of my head. Seriously? This is the guy? Not to knock John – no, no, no. Not at all. It’s just that he is very much like my friend Dan. Too much, really (it’s doppelganger level scary), and I can’t imagine Dan writing that book. I can’t imagine John writing that book. Although when I do try to imagine who could have written that book I come up blank, so I guess the whole thing is moot.

What is getting to me, actually, is the second unsettling thing, which is that these videos are a good peek into the life of a modern day writer. They take place in 2007, in which we find John Green between two novels: the much acclaimed, already published An Abundance of Katherines, and the in-progress, still being crafted Paper Towns. This means when we don’t see John talking at home, or giving us sneak peaks of a day in a life of writing, we see John traveling… A lot: Promoting his books, going to functions, speaking at organizations and libraries and schools and even attending awards functions. He is always running around and this bothers me because my panic disorder has reached epic levels in certain departments, and traveling, especially alone is currently out of the question for me. And if I am ever to be published I will be expected to do this traveling, running around and talking and flying in planes, and whatnot. It’s bad enough I’ll have to deal with doing it all as a fatty (which is a really big concern, actually and probably will prevent my ever being published by a proper house), but doing it in a constant state of panic… I can’t even…

So concerned about this am I, I have been searching other writer’s blogs and videos and talks and interviews and articles and it’s all the same, everywhere I look. Neil Gaiman practically lives on the road. Even the Composers of Naughtiness have to do all of this. There are specific Naughtiness Composer conventions. I don’t stand a chance. My only hope will be to write something as epic as To Kill A Mockingbird, let my book work for me as I hide in my room and refuse to talk to the media.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I have been medicated for my panic disorder in the past, but the drugs messed me the frak up and stunted my creativity in a weird way. In fact, if you read what I’ve written before, after, and during my periods of medication, you would swear that whoever was writing during was not the same person who was writing before and after. And they sucked even more than that other guy. The same goes for the rest of my art and music too – everything is forced and without, I guess, soul.

This February though, things may change in the freaking-the-fuck-out-in-the-supermarket department. Thanks to the ACA my health care is expanding and I will be able to resume my search for a mental health professional who has some experience dealing with panic disorder. Go me, and thanks Obama. (And please, I don’t need any guff, so don’t go writing nasty anti-Obama shiz in my comments section. I already get a lot of that – and plenty more – from my sadly misguided and misinformed right-wing cousins. Yes, I’ve seen the open letter from the lady in Alabama who is worried her kids won’t have health care. And I’ve successfully smote every single person who has attacked me using it as evidence. So let it go.)

Despite getting all wound up and anxious that my crazy may be thwarting my hopes of finding my book in a store one day, I keep obsessively watching Brotherhood 2.0, Year 1. I find it horribly amusing, and in a lot of ways I can see how these guys might just be In Cahoots. For all of you out there in Nerdfighteria, being In Cahoots is very much like being a Secret Sibling. We would have to meet, exchange glances and nod knowingly for me to confirm this, but so far as I can tell, all the evidence seems to be there. There is no question however, that I am a Nerdfighter. I mean, come on. Not only am I a most epic reader, I am specifically a most epic reader of Science Fiction. On top of that, I am a font of useless information. Seriously. I once inadvertently usurped a museum curator giving a tour, and ended up finishing it myself. (This has resulted in my being the go-to guide in every museum situation since.) I collect weird shit like ancient cameras, rocks, bits of discarded nature and dead bugs which I then incorporate in both my science and my art. I am an abecedarian, and I have lists of kick ass words – everywhere. This last year I didn’t make a gingerbread house I made a gingerbread… T.A.R.D.I.S.. And if that isn’t enough, I am currently enrolled in a major university, where I am studying theoretical physics. I ultimately want to use my nerdiness to make the world a better place – if not just a better informed one.

At this point I think I could actually give Nerdfighter classes. This I feel would be good, and beneficial, as the Nerdfighting community should aim to grow and spread across the earth, using it’s might against World Suck. So sign me up.

In a complete non sequiteur, I shall now present to you as promised, the epic hat stack:

The Epic January 2014 Hat Stack

The Epic January 2014 Hat Stack

That’s fourteen bald heads that shall be soft and warm in the near future, kids.

I wish to take this final moment to announce a new development in the world of knitting jargon. The knitting acronym/abbreviation Sl2,K1,PSSO – sometimes written as S2KP – shall now be referred to as Flooping The Pig. So remember, next time a pattern requires you to slip two stitches (as if to knit) then knit one and pass the two slipped stitches over that knit stitch, you are Flooping the Pig. Don’t worry, SSK – or slip slip knit – is still called Slipping the Nip. That will never change.

And with that, I am off. Please enjoy this parting gift – a playlist to get over this whiny rant to:
Fleetwood Mac – Never Going Back Again
The Goat Rodeo Sessions featuring Aoife O’Donovan – Here and Heaven
Newton Faulkner – Sitar-y Thing – Interlude
Chris Thile – Riddles in the Dark
Claude Debussy – Suite Bergamasque: Menuette
The Jane Austen Argument – Song for a Siren
CocoRosie – Gallows
Agnes Obel – Riverside
Alexandre Desplat – Mr. Fox in the Fields Medley
Bruno Coulais – Mouse Circus
Iaian Ballamy – Rabbit Band
Architecture in Helskini – Nothing’s Wrong

An Embarrassing Comment On Lou Reed and a Thank You

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Everybody who is anybody is writing about Lou Reed right now, and as I’m nobody this seems a nonstarter right off the bat. But here it is.

When I was growing up I was inundated with an amazing spectrum of music: My father was uncharacteristically eclectic listening to everything from the Beatles and CSNY to Miles Davis and Johnny Cash. My grandparents loved the standards. I was training to be a classical musician and had a lot of that going on. My mom was a sucker for Neil Diamond, Phoebe Snow and ‘80’s pop. My cousins were musicians into punk and metal and Sonic Youth.

But my favorite of them all was David Bowie.

From the beginning and in a very unhealthy way, too. When I was three or four I had a five alarm tantrum when my folks went to see him in concert and THEY DIDN’T TAKE ME. I had this insane dream that he would adopt me and take me to New York where I would hang out with all of his cool friends and sing and make art. And that was when I was still in single digits.

Someone eventually, probably my dad, started introducing me to those cool friends: Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and Brian Eno. And I loved them too, but I hadn’t the… agency I guess to pursue this music myself.

But when I was in junior high my life was shitty and I was lonely and all I wanted to do was my art and play music and lock myself in a room with paints and a needle and thread and try not to exist. I went to all the local museums and to the libraries and checked out all the art books. I went and taped all the free records from the library. Among them was Lou Reeds’ Transformer. I would put the new tapes in and let them play through and move on to the next, deciding what got kept and what got taped over. But that one…

I wore Transformer out. I had to check it out from the library again, tape it again. See, I hadn’t had any money of my own to buy it (things were complicated) and I had not yet become the teenage PR ne’er do well who hung out at Fort Apache and went to parties with AFP. There was no interwebs to scope out music on and my few friends weren’t nearly as learned about these things as I, so I was stuck with what I could find when I found it.

To say that this album was influential would be an understatement. If David Bowie was the key, then Lou Reed was the doorman, because he opened wide a world of music that I didn’t know existed. I went through all of his albums, which led to the Velvet Underground (of course) and to Nico. Which led back to Jackson Browne (a favorite of my dad’s) and around to Patti Smith, Wire and the New York Dolls. Which led to Suicide and Magazine. Grace Jones and Laurie Anderson. It even somehow led me to Throwing Muses, my favorite band of all time. (Throwing Muses, in their own right would change my life. But that’s another story).

On top of all that Lou was endlessly cool. I could never see him living some weird glamorous rock star life. I imagined him walking after dark in his leather jacket with a cigarette. Sporting shades. And I would look in my art books and he was there. He was a photographer. Just like me. And his music was unreal – painfully simple and infinitely complex, all at once. And his words were poems, stories, rants, narratives. He created worlds in his songs where you can smell the blood and the wet pavement and see the dealers and feel the love for the junkies and prostitutes and punks that lurked around every corner. He took me to the city where I no longer was and most wished to be. Best of all it was completely unapologetic. He could screech or drone monotonous and have six minute pseudo pop songs because fuck you this is art.

I wanted to meet him. I wanted him to be my friend. I wanted to show him my stuff. I wanted to thank him for being him. I wanted to call him Uncle Lou.

And I did. Every time I put on an album or cassette or CD, I would say “time for Uncle Lou”. Every time I saw him in an interview or on teevee or in a book “hey look – it’s Uncle Lou”. Somehow I felt like, as an artist, whatever I did in life somewhere out there I had an Uncle Lou.

And that was my big mistake I think. Because when this happens, when someone that great comes along and changes everything for you, you make them immortal in your mind. And in a way they are immortal – as is the nature of art. But that’s what’s so dangerous about this thinking, because they are really just people, and they get old and they get sick and they have accidents or they get murdered and in the end they die. We all do.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when, on Sunday, at the worst possible moment of an inexplicably bad day (seriously, if I wrote about it here the WTF chorus would be stunned mute), my dad told me that Lou Reed had died. He was human, after all. But I was. The air was sucked out of my lungs, and it was all I could do the exit the building, don my shades and get in the car before the tears overcame me.

Lou’s music is always somewhere in my head and at the tip of my tongue, and in a way that I didn’t really realize or think about until Sunday.

In the soundtrack to my life he was a major presence. He was there for every major phase, stage and disappointment. I learned to drive listening to a compilation tape of every Velvet Underground song I could squeeze onto a super 120 cassette. When I printed photos in the lab it was also to the Velvet Underground. The time I was nearly locked in the wet room it was my singing ‘Satellite of Love’ that saved me. Me and dad on the T going home from a Bosstones show where I got sick before the main act – he was singing ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ to cheer me up. Hot water at the Tasty, after midnight in the Pit, the 77 bus to Arlington Heights, waiting in our seats at the Orpheum Theater, trapped in a Central Square parking garage, sitting alone on the floor of my bedroom – my memories are a Lou Reed mix tape.

And I know I can say the same thing about Bowie and Kristin Hersh and David Byrne and so many others. But none of them are or ever will be my Uncle Lou.

I never got to thank him. So I’m going to do that now. Thank you.

Typewriters and Canscer Scares

So I have somehow inherited (if this is the proper word for it) the typewriter of a beloved and popular uncle. By inherited I mean, I posted on Facebook how I wished I had a proper, old-school manual typewriter (as opposed to my much beloved electric Smith-Corona) and a cousin told me that he wanted to give me my uncles’ typewriter which was rescued from the rubbish when they cleaned out his house after he moved away from the old neighborhood.

I don’t know much about the typewriter, other than my uncle loved it. He was a letter writer apparently, and he took very good care of the instrument while it was of interest to him.

Sufficed to say, although the typewriter I had in mind was a turn of the century Remington, I am much obliged for this specimen. With every tap of the keys my Smith-Corona slams the hammer against the paper with enough force to pierce it – and indeed on occasion it has. It is an angry thing and quite appropriate for my artistic purposes. Am curious to see how I will fair with this new noise; it seems a might bit tamer than the bitter THWACK! of my old electric. Now all I need is ribbon and I should be all set. I am looking forward to penning another chapter or short story on it in the future.

Typewriters of Famous Writers

Once I have done something to facilitate the accessibility of mine hovel (to some degree of efficiency) I shall commence with the disparate and fictitious nonsense such is my literary career. Which are just fancy words for ‘once I get all my ducks in a row, I shall shoot them’.  Every time I manage to get some of the crazy out of my head and on paper all I get is a stomach ache for my reward. I have a few people I force to read my crap and ask for advice, but I don’t know. Not that I don’t trust them, it’s just maybe I need a wider sample? Or better yet – no sample at all?

In other news, probably more pressing, my surgical endeavors were successful. Thus far at least. Phil has been removed and is living somewhere off the grid. My foot has a badass scar, and as we all know, chicks and hotties dig scars, so perhaps this will all work out in my favour one of these days. I am healing nicely, the stitches, bandages and the boot (I had to tromp about in a boot of doom and keep my foot otherwise elevated) came off after three weeks.

The biopsy revealed no canscer – Phil was just a freeloading asshole. I had hoped at least for teeth and some hair, just for fun, but nope. The nerves in the area will be a bit raw for a while, and I have to keep an eye out for unusual colorations or swelling, but otherwise I was sent away from podiatry with a clean bill of health. So huzzah for me.

Like I have mentioned before, this is not my first cancer scare. This is like, my fourth in the last decade. So, although I should be more upset that this keeps happening, there is nothing more I can do. I eat crazy healthy, I even try to grow my own non GMO food. I try to exercise. It’s just how it is I guess.

In fact, the day after the stitches came out I had my annual intestinal probe. They found another giant adenoma, like they did during my first cancer scare. With my intestinal disorder I have a seriously elevated risk of colon and other cancers of the digestive tract. The first time was like Defcon Five around here, everyone in a panic, me keeping everyone together. Then I got a big speech from the gastro-doc informing me that although I don’t have cancer now, the polyps he removed were an early form of cancer. He told me I basically had stage zero cancer and that there wasn’t much that they could do other than be more vigilant. So my colonoscopies went from every three years to annually, with intermittent testing in between, and my cancer risk has gone from ‘elevated’ to one-in-three or one-in-two chances of getting ill.

So that’s going to be fun.

My biggest issue with getting sick is everyone else around me; these things freak everyone out more than me. So if it seemed that I was nonchalant about Phil I wasn’t trying to be coy; I was just trying to downplay it and see how things turned out before reacting. Or overreacting, rather. My family is populated with amazing, giving people. But it’s also populated with worriers – as in ‘worry-myself-sick’ worriers – and people who make other people’s misfortunes their own personal tragedies. Plus, since the dawn of e-mail and Facebook the rumour mill is alive and well and surprisingly even more ill-informed than ever.

So my colon is clean – yet angry, and my foot is sore but healing.

I didn’t get to go to Blick after all, because I am TOO BROKE, but I did manage a copy of The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas for one of my classes. It was really good and worth it. I was surprised and not surprised at the same time that my library didn’t carry it, and that in fact none of the libraries in this part of my STATE had it. So maybe when I am through with it I may donate it. Maybe.

I am a selfish bitch.