I had a metaphysical moment in Vegas last week. We were at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. I was still really sick. Mike had to go to the bathroom, so I was sitting on a bench. I was tired and just happy to sit and rest. I let my gaze wander over the stores. I saw a pink dress suit in the store window and thought to myself, “That’s one of those Chanel suit knockoffs. I have one of those at home. Mine looks better, though. I should pull it out and wear it to work next week.” My eyes lazily moved to look at the store front. I was sitting in front of the Chanel store. It wasn’t a knock-off. It was the real thing. I was so sick, I didn’t realize how funny it was until I put on my Chanel knockoff this morning.
A weblog by Laura Moncur
The young man bounces the basketball alone. I want to draw a picture of him, but my talent is shy of the task. I want to take a picture of him, but he is so far away and my camera’s zoom is too weak to reach him. I have to capture him in words, which is usually my preferred medium. The only problem is that I no longer trust my words. I’m sick of playing Hide and Seek with them.
He jumps and tosses the basketball at one of the three hoops at the far corner of the park. He plays a solitary game of three-hoop basketball, whose rules are known only to him. His white and blue shorts look silky, just like the ones the pros wear. I watch him jump and reach for the ball rebounding off the rim. He stretches in the reach and he looks a little like a professional ball player, except he’s alone.
I never see the pros practicing alone. They must do it. It takes lots of practice to go pro, so there must be hours of solitary practice for every professional on the court. I’ve seen pro teams practicing together, but I don’t remember ever seeing solitary practice on television.
Oops… He’s gone, walking north and carrying the ball under his right arm. He slipped away as I wrote the previous paragraph. Now he’s walking through the church parking lot all the way across the street. Gone. Before I could catch him on film or in a sketch or even in words.
How many hours of practice does it take? Did he stay out long enough to go pro? How many hours of practice do I need? I’m officially a professional writer. I get paid for my words (albeit not as much as I would like). When does it get easier? If I were to ask Michael Jordan, would he have an answer for me? A sick feeling in my gut tells me it never gets easier. I have the notion that any professional would tell me that it never ends. I always need to practice, no matter how long I have been writing.
A man in his forties has arrived on the court. He is wearing a sweat shirt and long sweat pants with a gray stripe down the sides. He bounces and jumps and chases after the wayward ball. Unlike the boy before him, he sticks to one hoop. It is the one furthest from me and my view is obscured by the baseball fences and bleachers. I can hear his ball bounce on the court. The springtime sun removes his sweat shirt, revealing a white t-shirt underneath. He bounces the ball behind his back and around himself to the front.
My camera can’t reach him and my pencil can’t capture him. All I am left with are my words, which are fleeting and untrustworthy. What is he thinking about? Like me, he practices alone. I scratch out Graffiti letters on my handheld and he chases his blue ball when it rebounds off the rim. It never ends until we die. There is always a need for practice, whether we are professionals or not.
In the distance I can see fabric drying on a clothesline. I had no idea that people still used clotheslines. The fabric is white, pink and baby blue, hung like huge squares in the background. It’s not windy out, so they stay motionless like a painted backdrop.
“There’s the error. There’s the incongruity. It’s 2005, but there are clothes on a clothesline in the background. Shoddy work, fellows.” There is a critic within me that is always looking for glitches in the Matrix.
One of our drafters celebrates Chinese New Year every year with a big party. When the festivities are over, he brings in the extra fortune cookies. The fortunes linger in the office for months or even years. Last year, one said, “You will be happy in married life.” She received it within months of her wedding and it still hangs by her nameplate. Others sit by keyboards and are pinned to the fabric walls of the cubicles.
“This one would be perfect for you.” The engineer handed it to me while I ate my frozen dinner in the lunchroom. It read, “You would make an excellent critic.” I frowned and whined when he handed it to me. My pride ached when I realized that he considers me an excellent critic. It made me sound negative and I pride myself on being positive. Reality and my vision of it clashed on a tiny slip of paper.
I thought to myself, “I didn’t eat the cookie. He ate the cookie. It’s his fortune.” It didn’t make me feel better. The fact of the matter is that he considers me an excellent critic. I have to own that. I can’t recall ever critiquing his work. I couldn’t possibly do it. My math degree is so far removed from engineering that they speak in a foreign tongue to me and are surprised when I look at them with a blank face.
So, there is a critic within me that notices clotheslines and the mistakes of engineers. It is a part of me that burns through my skin so brightly that people who barely know me are blinded by it. It is something that I didn’t even know was there. I guess it’s like wearing ugly clothes. They don’t bother me because I can’t see them. This critic, who I though only turned its gaze on myself, is observing everything and everyone around me.
Stupid fortune cookie…
She’s the mother of my sister-in-law. I guess that means that she is almost a stranger. I saw her last Saturday at a familial gathering. We see her every once and a while. I would be able to recognize her and remember her name if I saw her in an unfamiliar place.
We know that she is obsessed with family histories and genealogy. That line of study has a religious context here in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is almost a duty of the family to keep a record of the lineage. The church helps out and they have an amazing genealogy library both in the city and online. When she lived in Boston, she would frequently travel back home to visit the library.
She asked about my family. I grew up in the same neighborhood as she raised her children and she was trying to find a connection. She was trying to hear a familiar name. After exhausting my parents’ names, she moved on to my grandparents. For some reason, I was trying to shock her, so I told the risque stories that fill my family’s past. She wanted to hear them all. She was unshockable.
“You should write down your family stories,” she told me. She doesn’t know that I am a writer. She doesn’t know how I’ve shied away from writing any of my family stories. “I would, but I don’t know which ones are true.” She smiled serenely at me and said, “It doesn’t matter what’s true. You write the legend anyway.” I blinked at her a few times and then reached across the couch to hug her. “You are my new favorite person.”
I haven’t put my fingers to the keyboard about very many details about my family’s past because I didn’t ever know if what my grandma or father told me was true. It doesn’t matter. What I write down today will be a hell of a lot truer than what I could write in ten years or what my progeny would try to write when I’m gone. Additionally, it doesn’t matter what the real truth is. There is no real truth anymore. All there is are the memories of what my grandma told me. There are others on the planet who may argue, but to me, those stories are the only truth that exists.
So that’s what I have to do: write the legend anyway.
We had been with Sprint for over seven years when we switched over to T-Mobile last November. We got new phones at such a discount that the rebates actually paid us to move over to T-Mobile. The switch over was relatively painless and I was happy to replace my four year old phone.
From the beginning, there were problems. Our home was a dead zone. Our phones worked within a one block radius of our home, but at our house, we never got our calls and calling out was difficult. When we could call out, we could barely hear the person on the other line because the phones cut out so often.
Then, about a month ago, my phone got worse. Wherever I tried to call, I had this noisy static coming over the line. There was nothing I could do to prevent that static noise. No matter who called, all I wanted to do was to get them off the phone as quickly as possible because I couldn’t hear what they were saying anyway.
We had a year contract. Yesterday, we broke it. We’ll willing pay the fee to T-Mobile to go back to Sprint. They ported over our numbers easily. I got the free clam-shell phone from LG and Mike got himself a Treo 650, which is a Palm device and a phone all in one. We spent most of last night talking about the phones and calling each other once they worked.
Ironically, when we had Sprint, we had horrible experiences with their customer service over the phones. Their automated phone system, called Claire, was supposed to understand English, but it didn’t work well at all. Once I would finally get a hold of a human being, they were just trying to get me off the phone as quickly as possible, giving incorrect answers and, at times, they were even rude. We had been so happy to move to T-Mobile because their service department seemed so great.
After experiencing the coverage nightmare that was T-Mobile, we were set on buying out of our contracts. We could have gone with any company: AT&T, Cingular, Cricket, Qwest, etc. Instead, we went back to Sprint. We KNEW that their coverage was great. We were able to get calls in Kauai, Hawaii and remote camping locations with Sprint. Sure the customer service was a nightmare, but the phones worked every time. That’s why we walked in the doors of the Sprint Store yesterday. The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t.
My friend, Braidwood, has written a great review of this month’s O magazine:
I used to subscribe to O (and a bunch of other magazines), but I have stopped them all. I would get a pile of magazines and feel guilty about not reading them. Now, I pick them up at the grocery store and they feel like a treat instead of an obligation.
I thought that having a subscription would feel like getting a treat in the mailbox once a month. Instead, it just felt like yet another job I had to do each month. I can imagine it on my Task List in my Palm, “Read magazines.” Instead of a fun thing, it was a chore.
I guess I better pick up this month’s O magazine…
I’ve had trouble writing since December. At first I blamed it on writing for NaNoWriMo, but after a couple months, I felt like I should be over that. I finally realized why I’ve been tired and I feel like a fool for not noticing it earlier.
In December, I started writing for Starling Fitness. When I decided to take on another blog, I didn’t think it would be any big deal. I had been writing consistently for this weblog for over a year. I didn’t even conceive that adding Starling Fitness would be a burden.
Of course, Starling Fitness is a professional website. I’m required to write a post every day with a goal of fifty posts a month. That’s almost two posts a day. I’m not required to write a lot. I could just choose to link to another site and add a small comment, but I never do things halfway. I’m writing all out on Starling Fitness. I’m pouring out my soul and lecturing like my mother and grandmother never knew how. I’m giving it my all, baby.
I had no idea that when I agreed to write for Starling Fitness that I was essentially doubling my workload. Instead of writing one entry a day, I’m writing two entries a day. Even saying that now, it doesn’t sound like much until I realize that one of those posts is confronting deep-seated body issues. I’m delving into all the things that make me and my body the way that they are. Frankly, it’s kind of tiring.
So, I’m tired. And you know what? It’s ok. Right now, I’m learning to write consistently for two weblogs. It’s perfectly natural to be tired right now. I was so worried because I had no idea why I could barely keep up writing for Pick Me, much less think about writing any fiction. Now that I know why I’m tired, I feel better about it. I can accept it and work around it.
So, if I neglect writing here for a couple days, click on over to Starling Fitness and see what I have to say there. At least you know I’m still alive…
I have been reading Ruthie’s Top Secret Diary for years now. She stopped writing for awhile, but now she’s back, posting pictures and her diary entries. This week, she posted pictures from her birthday party.
I particularly like this one:
It captures the feeling of the house after a big party perfectly. That’s what it feels like. The people are gone. The lights are out. The house is strangely quiet after all of the activity. I feel full and empty at the same time.
If you would like to read it, here is a link to her weblog:
Now that I have been feeling better about writing, my computer has decided to revolt. Whenever I try to run MS Word (or any Microsoft program for that matter) I get an error that shuts down the program. I don’t even need to touch anything. It just crashes the program.
I can look at websites using Mozilla Firefox. I can talk on IM. I can play music. I just can’t write. Ok, that’s a lie. I can write on the Palm. I can write on paper. It’s not that I can’t write. I just can’t write the way I want to. I have to work around the computer instead of on it.
I can do this. When I want to write, nothing can stop me. As long as I can move my fingers, I can write. The only thing that can get in my way is me. It’s hard to find a way over or around or under or through myself. I tend to be a more formidable obstacle than broken computers or pressing tasks.
When I first heard that they were doing a movie adaptation of A Scanner Darkly by Phillip Dick, I wrote about it. Now there is a trailer online for the movie and all my reservations about the animation process have been wiped from my mind.
Man, oh man, oh man! I can’t wait for this movie to come out! It looks like they did a really good job adapting the story and have made it better than anything Phillip Dick conceived of. I can’t wait to see the whole thing, but for now, the trailer will have to do.
Just doing my part to get the word out:
George W. Bush is a Miserable Failure.
If Google is a measure of popular opinion, then the world has taken a recount:
You get to vote about this too, even if you’re not a citizen of the United States. Just dedicate a blog entry to George W. Bush and link to his biography using the words “Miserable Failure.”
Why I think he’s a miserable failure:
- He (and his administration) hoodwinked the nation into the war with Iraq.
- He got to be president under suspicious circumstances.
- He still hasn’t brought the man who took credit for 9-11 (Osama Bin Laden) into custody.
- He brought our national approval rating from the highest it has been in years (right after 9-11) to the lowest.
I voted against him in both of the elections and I’m voting against him once again. I can’t believe half the nation voted for him last time…
My dependence on caffeine has gotten phenomenally worse. If I don’t make sure I get a dose by ten in the morning, I end up with a headache. The thought of going off it completely makes me cringe, but the idea of having to drink a Diet Mountain Dew every morning just so I won’t have a headache bothers me even more. I guess I’m spending this weekend going off the Dew. Goody… Three days of head-splitting headaches. Better than every day, I guess.
Update 8:29 pm: I’m too chicken to go cold turkey. I decided to take 2 Excedrin when the morning headache comes. I won’t drink any caffeinated beverages, but the Excedrin has caffeine in it. Next week, I’ll lower the dose to 1 Excedrin a day and the week after that I’ll take a half an Excedrin. I just can’t bear to deal with those headaches.
Update 04-12-05 3:17 pm: It took less than a week to wean myself off the caffeine. I was down to a quarter of an Excedrin in the morning. Almost a week later, I had a morning without a headache, so I didn’t take anything. I didn’t realize it until 6pm that night. I was so happy. Now, I’m staying away from all caffeinated products.
I wrote before about Babu. I referred to him by his given name, Sethuraman Srinivasan Jr., but he goes by Babu among his friends and family. I emailed him when I found his website so long ago and we talked a bit.
I promptly forgot he existed.
When he emailed me an update, I almost deleted it without looking at it and considered reporting him as spam to Gmail. Fortunately, some glimmer of memory came to me. I just read his latest entry on his primative weblog and I am laughing at his pain and discomfort. His Haunted House story is scarier than anything Stinky Ghost could muster!
Check him out!
The truck was driving in front of me. It was a pickup in pretty good shape. I otherwise would have ignored it, but it had awkward letters on its back window. Written out in red electrical tape, the words read, “RIP Chris LeDoux.”
This is how I get my news when I’m on a news fast.
The truck turned toward the high school. I drove past it and headed to work. Chris LeDoux. I hadn’t heard those two words for at least three years.
I used to have a secretary that was obsessed with him. She was a happily married woman who was bored by the requirements of our secretarial position. She was creative and artistic and ended up making the flyers for the agents in the office. In fact, she was the only secretary that I trusted to make my flyers. She was far better at design than I was.
“Who’s that?” I pointed to the cowboy on her computer screen.
“That’s Chris LeDoux.”
She looked at me like I should know him. She was surprised that I didn’t. She went on to explain how great he was. She showed me at least six pictures of him on her computer. She didn’t say that he was a musical genius. She didn’t say that he had been a bareback rodeo champion. She just thought he was beautiful.
The name of Chris LeDoux was logged in my mind under the category, “Bored Secretary” and I didn’t think of him again until last week when that truck flashed it’s red electrical tape letters at me.
Here I am. I find myself three years later, filed in the same category as that good-looking cowboy. We’re both in the “Bored Secretary” folder along with fingernail files and nasal voices.
I don’t even like Country Music…
It’s two in the morning and I can’t sleep. I tried warm milk and it’s just not working. I woke up at midnight with that horrible sleep paralysis. Mike was snoring next to me and I couldn’t move. The adrenaline kicked in and I was wide awake by the time that I could move. I thought that I might be able to go back to sleep, but by one am, I realized I had a problem, so I let Sid outside to pee and sat down at the computer with a mug of warm milk. I still haven’t felt drowsy. I have to work today. I need to get some sleep. I must be stressed or something.
I dreamt about Sceverenia’s house in West Valley again. It was still for sale and vacant. All of us were there reminiscing about old times. The house was in a state of disrepair. My mom showed up at the end and wanted me to come home. My cat, Maggie, was there and I was having trouble scooping her up to bring her home with me. I was stealing whatever I could out of the house (even though those strange appliances weren’t ever in her house). I was just packing that stuff into my car. In the dream, Scev’s dad, Dick, was dead, but I kept saying that he was there. I think this all has to do with him somehow. I guess I never got to say goodbye to her dad. I didn’t think that the last time I saw him would be the last time ever. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him.
I used to wish he was my dad. He never went insane. He was quiet. He would pretend that he couldn’t hear us because he was “deaf.” Really, I think he cultivated that idea because then he could listen to our conversations. I always thought it was hilariously funny when he could hear some things we said just fine, but others, he would pretend he couldn’t hear. I think I heard him say the word, “What?” more than any other word.
One time, I watched him eat. He left a bite of each kind of food on his plate: one bite of meat, one bite of potatoes, one bite of vegetable. I asked him why and he said, “That’s for the gods.” He went to his room and left the plate on the table. A few minutes later, I caught the cat eating the food that he had left on the plate. I had this shining moment when I realized that the cat was one of the gods. Suddenly everything around me felt holy and god-like. I could be a god. Spanky the dog could be a god. This time, the god was the cat. It was as if the spiritual world commingled with the terrestrial world in a strange mix of color and beauty.
I guess I keep dreaming about her house because I needed to claim all those memories as mine. I feel really bad that I never got to tell Dick how much I loved him. He was a great dad to Scev and me. I feel like the world is less because he’s gone and he never even knew that I thought that way about him. He was always patient and willing to lend a deaf ear.
Man, I need a Chair of Self-Acceptance. Where can I get one?
Look at the smile on that guy. I need some of that…
“I finished My So Called Life this morning while I was on the treadmill.”
“Oh…” Mike is eating breakfast. He made himself this delicious bagel with Nutella and cream cheese. I can’t see him eating it, but I’m still jealous.
“I guess the problem that I’m having is that they didn’t know that they were going to be cancelled, so they left the series with all these loose ends that never got tied up.”
“Yeah.” I don’t know if he’s listening, but I’m really just talking to myself.
“I’ve been thinking about how it should end, but I really don’t know how it should be…”
“Why don’t you just imagine that someone comes into the school and shoots up everyone.”
“You’re a freakin’ genius.”
“I was joking.”
“No, really. You’re a genius. Now who would it be?” I’m really excited about the prospect of annihilating the entire cast of My So Called Life. “I know!”
“Tino! The Elusive Tino!”
“Ok…” He has finished his breakfast and his attention is on me fully, but he’s obviously confused.
“There’s this character in the show that I don’t think is ever shown on screen. Everyone says things like, ‘I’ll get that from Tino,’ or ‘We’re waiting for Tino,’ or ‘I guess Tino’s my friend.’ Maybe in the final episode, Tino FINALLY shows up to school and shoots up the place!”
“I really was joking.”
“No, it’s brilliant. He would kill Rayanne because she tried to replace him in the Frozen Embryos. He would kill Jordan because he actually did replace him and renamed the band. He would kill Angela because he figured that she was the reason Jordan took over the band. Ricky would get shot trying to protect Angela and Rayanne. I don’t know why Tino would kill Brian and Sharon, though…”
Mike has stopped listening. Either that, or he’s patiently waiting for me to come back down to earth and start talking about something beside ten year old television shows.
“Maybe I’ll just have Tino kill Jordan and Angela and everyone else has to deal with the aftermath. Maybe Brian would marry Rayanne Graff. He deserves a wild and exciting girl like her don’t you think?”
“I was just joking…”
I love to watch movies and their remakes head to head. We did it with Ocean’s Eleven. I never told you, but we did it with The Italian Job. We never got around to going head to head with the two versions of The Thomas Crowne Affair. I’ve got a new one to try out: Alfie.
Ever since his portrayal of Gigolo Joe in A.I., I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Jude Law. I saw the advert for the movie, Alfie, and thought, “Hey, I think the modern world is finally ready for a story about a womanizing man played by Jude Law. I think he could actually pull it off.” I logged onto Netflix and typed the word “Alfie.”
To my surprise, Michael Caine joined Jude Law and I almost clapped my hands! My old friend Michael Caine! In 1966, he starred in a movie called, strangely enough, Alfie. He played a man who never met a woman he didn’t love. Sound familiar?
As soon as they make it to the top of my Netflix Queue, it sounds like we’re in for another head to head battle between Jude Law and Michael Caine. My bets are on Michael Caine. No one can womanize like late 60’s Michael Caine. I know, because I saw the original version of The Italian Job.
Now, I just have to convince Michael, Dan and Stacey that four hours on the couch watching movies is actually worth it…
You know what I haven’t read about lately? Ectoplasm. It was the stuff that was supposed to be the leftovers of ghostly presences. It was the materialization of the spirit form. As a child, reading about ghosts, I remember seeing pictures of ectoplasm. They were presented very much like this website does. The Haunted Museum – Ectoplasm! Fraud or Phantasm? – by Troy Taylor
When Ghost Busters came out, ectoplasm was green gunk. “He slimed me,” was a catch phrase that I still hear people saying to this day, usually in connection with children. It’s not like there were spiritual mediums producing bright green ectoplasm out of their body orifices. The movies did it for us and much better.
I haven’t read or even heard the word ectoplasm in so long that I almost miss it. Is there some cool computer thing that we can name ectoplasm? Maybe it could be some Blue Tooth enabled surgically installed headset or maybe some method of installing small computer within our hands or fingers. Computer Ectoplasm… yeah, I’m ready for some of that…
On my morning runs, I watch DVDs on the television in front of the treadmill. I’m training for a 5K right now (see Starling Fitness for more info), so I’m watching a lot of movies and old television that has been released on DVD. Netflix is my new best friend.
Despite all my dabbling with Pagan religion and Earth-Centric religions, I have never seen the movie, The Craft. It seemed like a horror movie with the underlying theme of, “Don’t play with things you know nothing about.” After seeing it, I have to say, “Man, those Goth girls looked cool!” It seems like that’s what the movie was about: look how hot these Goth girls are.
Then again, there is a strange earthiness to the movie. Everything that the witchy store owner said matched Pagan philosophy. Some of the rituals were very authentic. Each of the girls represented one of the major elements (Earth, Air, Water, and Fire). The movie felt very genuine in its research into Wicca.
On one hand, it felt like a movie written by the male view of women as power holders. Some men view women as unattainable goddesses who hold the keys to the sexual universe. This is a dangerous mindset because women are human, just like men are. We can’t live our lives on a pedestal. Life is too messy. Menstruation alone is messy enough to push the most pedestal-worthy woman off.
On the other hand, it felt like a movie written by the female view of nature as a balance between good and evil. The concept that everything that you do comes back to you three-fold is addressed in the movie (although the consequences of their actions are only touched upon). The idea that nature is beautiful and nasty is mentioned several times.
The entire movie felt like a tug of war between these masculine and feminine ideals. Sure, it was a cheap horror flick with a taste of slasher revenge, but underlying it was a struggle between the female and the male, and isn’t that what life’s about?
I’m feeling like Andy Rooney today. I want to complain about fast food restaurants that have two radios playing at once. The worst offender is the Pizza Hut by our house. There is official music playing on the overhead speakers and the music that the employees want to hear blasting from a boom box in the back. I don’t mind the official music. I actually prefer the employee’s music, but I CANNOT stand both at the same time.
If they would just turn off the official music, I could listen to their music. If the manager came down on them and made them turn off the boom box, then I could listen to the Official Pizza Hut Programming. Listening to both at once just makes me want to kill something.
The sky is so blue today. The snow that came down yesterday is melting. It’s not all gone yet. The spot where they piled the snow after shoveling is still lumpy and melting. There are bits of snow still on the roof of the building across the parking lot. The shingles around the snow are dark with the water. The cars are zipping along the freeway quicker than they were yesterday at this time. Such is spring in Utah. Yesterday, it was a snow storm, today it’s a run-off. It would be hard to live in a land where there was only one season.
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