carose59: my mother's family (it seems to absolve us)
I Couldn't Go To A Queer Halloween Party Once Because The Only Rule Was You Couldn't Come In Costume And Darling, I Had Nothing To Wear.*

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I've written this never-ending series of Wiseguy stories called Roadhouse Blues. I sort of thought I was finished a few years ago, but other stories popped up and I wrote them and did nothing with them (except the one I wrote for Christy; I showed it to her. Considering the number of stories I have that I wrote for/dedicated to her, Christy telling me she didn't think I was her audience is abso-fucking-lutely bizarre.)

Anyway, I'm writing on them again for reasons. But I'm breaking all the characters and at three of them are having meltdowns and I'm crying. This is effect and cause; I'm doing this because I need to cry and I'm a lot Irish and crying over imaginary people is what we do.

(I once wrote a story I only worked on when I was depressed or having PMS. And one I finished right after Pat died. You could wipe out a whole dealers' room of fans with those two stories.)

And in two days it's Thanksgiving and I've been invited by my cousin.


1. I love my family.
2. The food will be good.
3. There might be a few moments of feeling like I belong.
4. It will make them happy. I guess. *shrug* They invited me.


1. It will take four hours I could use for writing.
2. It will be loud and I will come home with a headache.
3. I will feel alienated and alone.
4. There will probably be a political argument which will leave me feeling even more alienated and alone. Unless I keep my mouth shut, in which case everybody will agree.

What I get when I see my family is sarcasm and whimsy. It's the language we all share; we're good at silly.

But it's like a garnish. Would you order an expensive dinner just for the garnish? (I might, because I'm like that, and if I had a use for the rest of the meal, like giving it away.)

It makes me so sad that it's this hard, that I do not feel a part of my family.

When my cousin in Texas wrote me that he had been thinking of coming to Indianapolis to look at train stuff (don't ask) (but now he wasn't because he was punishing us for something—again, don't ask), I wrote back and told him I'd be happy to go with him to look at train stuff.

He said he didn't know I was interested in trains.

I'm not. Except for liking to listen to them, I have no interest in trains. I'm interested in him.

I didn't tell him that because he wouldn't understand it!

And so it goes. I'm supposed to be interested in their lives when they're not a bit interested in mine. I'm endlessly weird, and as such, a source of amusement. I cause endless trouble by not enjoying my role as prop in the latest holiday special, sitting on the sofa and pretending everything is fine when nobody is talking to me (except my one cousin's husband who sees me as prey and wants to argue politics. It's fun. Fun. The destruction of our country is fun).

I want to say no and I want to be honest but I don't want to hurt them (well, yes, I do, but I also don't). I want them to actually be able to see me and that will never, ever happen and I need to stop wanting it but I don't know how.

And even if I tried to be honest, how many words do you think I'd get out? How many of my meaningless, incomprehensible words is anyone willing to listen to? I've written almost seven hundred right here. Nobody's going to listen to seven hundred words. Maybe I could pare it down to four.

I won't be happy no matter what I do, but staying home is a more productive use of my time. Sonny's having some serious PTSD, and Vinnie's throwing up from stress, and I don't even know what happened to Roger. It would be more fun to stay home and untangle those tangles and watch Humphrey Bogart. And I can make my own damn food.

(I did buy food. I decided to make smoked sausage and carrots and potatoes and onion and cabbage. I'm partial to red potatoes—I like the ones that are so small, you can hold two or three in your hand at a time. So I picked out a bag of small red potatoes. And I thought I'd get red cabbage instead of green, for no particular reason. And then, of course, when it was time to get the onions, I got red ones. I don't know if you've ever cooked with red onions, but they turn a sort of pale mauve, and from what I've read, so does red cabbage. I should have a really interesting-looking dinner. And while my family might find this funny, it would be in a despairing sort of way. Pat would find it hilarious. She'd hunt me down some red carrots, without me even asking.)

*Aaron Raz Link
carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
"She Was Not A Fiddler, She Was A Lady Violinist. I Was Her Beau."*-:- -:- -:- -:-

I decided to try to eat better, particularly in the morning to maybe stave off my panic attacks. To this end, I hardboiled a dozen eggs. Hardboiled eggs are easy and the only preparation they require is the removal of their shells.

And it's been going really well, except for the echoey thing in my head.

I remember words. Mostly dialogue, but also song lyrics and poems and actual conversations I had with real people. It's triggered by certain words or combinations of words or just the rhythm of certain phrases.

For instance, there's a scene in Casablanca where Victor Laszlo tells Major Strasser that he could never support the Nazis. "You see," he says, "I am a Czechoslovakian."**

And the way he says it, his inflection, requires me to quote Peter Warne (Clark Gable) in It Happened One Night. He tells Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) that her virtue is perfectly safe on the other side of the room—which he as divided with a blanket hanging from a rope. He declare it as sturdy as the walls of Jericho because, "You see, I have no trumpet." And he says it with exactly the same inflection.

I'm calling my diet a special hardboiled egg diet because on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Buddy tells them he's on a special hardboiled egg diet. It's just there in my head and I have to say it.

But the part that's driving me a little crazy(er) is A Night at the Opera. Because also as soon as I think two hardboiled eggs, there's the sound of Harpo's horn, followed by Groucho saying, "Make that three hardboiled eggs." Because it's there in my head and it just falls out whenever it's triggered by real life.

I wonder if this is related to earworm music. I get that, too. Right now Bob Dylan keeps repeating, "The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handle." That's not bad; when I think of it deliberately, it makes me laugh. The worst one I ever had was the song the children in the school sing in the The Birds when the crows are massing behind Tippi Hedren. The problem was, I wasn't hearing the words, just the tune—and I couldn't figure out what the hell it was! This was in high school, before the internet, when the most you could hope for was that you knew the right people who you could quote the words to and they'd tell you what the song was—but that only worked when you had words to quote! (I actually did have a friend good enough that I could go up to him and say, "Da-dunt, da-dunt, da-da-da-da-dun—what is that?" and he understood what I was talking about, though I don't think he recognized it. It finally came to me.

I find that the best cure for an earworm is to feed it. I listen to the song over and over until it's burned out of my brain.

While I was writing this, I looked up earworms on wikipedia, and they say musicians and people with OCD are more likely to have issues. I fall into both categories, a little. I'm certainly not musical, but I write by rhythm. And I'm what I call Comfort OCD. There are things I like to do in certain ways because the pattern-ness of the activity makes me happy—like hanging my clothes out on the line with the socks matched up. But if I can't do it that way due to time restraints, it doesn't upset me.

*Jonas Clay
**I just needed you to know that I spelled Czechoslovakian right the first time without looking it up. On the other hand, I left the h out of Jericho and had to look it up. Batting .500.
carose59: fandom (the lunatic fringe begins here)
[Originally posted elsewhere June 24, 2009]

There's a lot of stuff about warnings going on on, and I felt the need to throw myself into the pyre.

I am not your safe place.

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I've been opposed to warnings, ratings, what-have-you since they first started showing up on fan fiction. If I wanted readers starting out with the information that Starsky was going to be killed in my story, I'd start the story with something like, "The bullets tore through Starsky's chest, tearing his heart into pieces no surgeon could ever have put back together, even if there had been a surgeon there in the parking lot of the BCPD."

Not a bad opening sentence. But if I'm saving that information for later, chances are I don't want you to see it coming.

I've never written a rape story, and I probably never will. But if I did, again, I wouldn't warn for it. I don't warn for anything, except that you shouldn't drink anything while you're reading my stories. I cant to the funny side, and people have been known to choke or spray liquids out their noses reading my stories. I'll warn for that. I post in my own space, and if you come into my space to read my stories, you do so at your own risk. You can consider that a warning, if you want. But telling me what I should and should not do in my own space is presumptuous. If you don't like the way I do things, don't come here. Lose readers? Why should I care?

I've been reading various essays by people who have had seriously bad things happen to them, and who have triggers they don't want set off while reading fan fiction. And I can understand how they feel.

What I don't understand is where anybody got the idea that fandom as a whole was one big safe place.

If you and I are friends--actual friends--and are out someplace together and you're going to the restroom, you're likely to leave your purse with me. (And you're likely to tell me not to let anyone take your purse, something I find hilarious, because really, is that instruction necessary? But we all seem to do it.)

Even if we've only known each other a few hours, you might feel comfortable enough to leave your purse with me, particularly if we're at a con. It's a fan place, and relative strangers appear closer than they might actually be.

But if we were both in a movie theatre to see the new Star Trek movie, would you hand me your purse to look after just because we're both people who like Star Trek? Even if I was wearing a Star Fleet uniform and Vulcan ears?

I'm guessing the answer is no. God, I'm hoping the answer is no. I worry about anyone who would entrust their purse to someone on the basis of a shared interest in a particular fandom.

And I worry even more about someone who would entrust their mental health to someone based on that same criteria. If you don't know me, what makes you think I'm safe?

I've had it beaten into my head repeatedly that readers owe nothing to writers. I, as a writer, am either writing for myself alone, or I'm not a real writer. If I'm writing in the hopes of opening a two-way communication with the readers, too bad for me. If, in this so-called gifting society, I'm foolish enough to think someone might feel the societal pressure to say thank you--well, I can think again, because there is no such pressure. All the pressure is on the writer to shut up unless she's writing fan fiction. Talking about a need not to feel she's throwing her words into a vacuum is whiny and removes her title of "real writer." Writers have no right to expect anything.

Yet somehow readers expect writers to do lots of things. Spell-check, fact-check, write characters in-character.* Post in a way that's convenient for each reader. And make sure that nothing in the story comes as a nasty surprise to the reader. Because fandom is a safe place, and it's up to us writers to insure that safety.

I don't know why.

I've warned friends off certain stories I've written. I haven't done this because fandom is so warm and fuzzy, I've done it because they were friends, and I knew their tastes. But it is not my responsibility to protect strangers who might be emotionally upset from the stories I write. It's not any writer's responsibility. We are, after all, writing only for ourselves. So our sole duty is to write the story we're trying to tell as well as we possibly can. I'm creating a piece of literature. The reader doesn't enter into it.

Fandom can either be a two-way street, where readers make an effort to get to know writers and develop a relationship where they have a reason to assume there is some concern for them personally, or it can continue to be this one-way street, where writers provide free stories and readers take them without feeling any obligation to the writers. But a one-way street does only go one way. If the reader has no obligation to the writer, the writer has just as little obligation to the reader. And you can't compare fan fiction to books or movies or any other professionally produced mode of story-telling where there are book jackets or reviews to, because readers aren't paying writers. (And professional writers don't write their own book jackets or reviews anyway.) Readers aren't paying them for the stories, they aren't paying them for the synopses they want, or the ratings, or the warnings.

There's a call for a standard of behavior for writers, but--

I was going to say, there isn't one for readers, but the first part of that sentence is wrong. There are calls for two standards of behavior for writers. We're to write selflessly, expecting nothing in return, and we're to make sure that our stories carry proper warnings. Where is the call for a standard of response? Why is it whenever the subject of feedback is brought up, the consensus is that readers owe writers no consideration?

Well, sowing no consideration will reap you no consideration.

My trigger is being ignored. It's knowing that people want my stories but they don't want me, that except as a story-producer, I'm of no value whatsoever. It's being told by third parties that my stories are being discussed, but the people doing the discussing being unable to send me an email saying--anything. You want to talk meltdown? It sends me right back to grade school, where I lived like Carrie, only without the psychokinesis. And when I've spoken up--or have seen others speak up--the response is always that we're making too much of this, that we're whiners, that hey, *shrug* this is fandom, what do you expect?

I don't expect anything anymore. I do my own thing, in my own space.

*I'm actually in favor of spell- and fact-checking, and writing characters in character, and I try very hard to get that right. I do it for the same reason I try to be sure my hair is brushed and my slip isn't showing, because not doing it reflects badly on me.

The story of a story

Sunday, 12 June 2016 02:31 pm
carose59: fandom (the lunatic fringe begins here)
It's One Thing To Drive People Crazy. It's Another To Make Them Feel Ashamed Of It."*

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[This is the story of how I wrote my most disturbing story, A View to a Kill.. I'll be referencing details from both Starsky & Hutch and Wiseguy, and I'm not going to try to annotate so this makes sense to those of you who don't watch the shows; it would be cost-prohibitive in terms of time.  Annotations are easy; gracefully written annotations are hard.]

One March morning in 2004—the year Pat died—I was IMing with a Starsky & Hutch fan named Giovanna. (At the time I thought she was a friend, but that turned out not to be true, and I'm now unwilling to write that she was.)

I don't know how the subject of Starsky dying of his gunshot wounds in Sweet Revenge (the final S&H episode) came up, but it did, and that led to the question What would Hutch do? The answer we came up with was, he'd hire someone to kill Gunther.  He'd want to do it himself, but if a first attempt failed, it would be impossible to get close to Gunther again.  And who better to hire than Sonny Steelgrave?

The set-up was, Hutch was in New York for Starsky's funeral.  He gets lost on the way to the airport and ends up in Atlantic City.  It's right at the beginning of the first episode, Sonny's name is in all the headlines.  Sonny's found out Vinnie's a fed, but he can't get rid of him because if anybody finds out he hired a fed, he's dead.  But we postulated that there had been territorial wars between the mob and Gunther.  If Sonny took out Gunther, he could take over his territory, and the number one priority of the mob is making money.  You earn, you can get by with an awful lot. So Hutch and Sonny agree to exchange murders.

I was so jazzed by this idea, I immediately went on break with a pad of paper and a pen and wrote the first two thousand words.

It was so much fun to write this crazy, improbable story.

I'm not sure how much I wrote to begin with, beyond that initial two thousand words.  Giovanna told me about scenes she was going to write and I wrote other stuff.  I stopped writing because Giovanna didn't send me any of what she said she was writing and I became hopelessly confused about pretty much everything, particularly the storyline and who was supposed to be writing what.

And pretty soon it didn't matter because Pat died and I had other things to think about.

Late that summer, I was casting around for something to write and I thought of this story.  My mood was dark and angry and dangerous, and this story fit it perfectly.  I contacted Giovanna, and this time she actually sent me stuff. We talked and we wrote, and then it came down to what it always seemed to whenever I collaborated with anyone: me finishing the story.  That's not a complaint; it's just how things have worked out.  It might just be that I get so excited by story ideas, I get greedy and want to do the whole thing.

I vividly remember the day I finished it. It was a gorgeous autumn day. I emailed the document to Giovanna and she called me while I was out for a walk.  I was giddy and scared—this story was incendiary.  We had killed Starsky, then we'd had Hutch kill Frank as well as Vinnie, and in the end we killed Hutch. I do remember how  delirious and sick the idea made me. It was a scary, awful, perfect idea, the kind of thing that could get a writer lynched in SH fandom. I had a couple of friends I bored with my worry over the possible repercussions.

We came up with a pseudonym and I created a hotmail account to use to Flamingo for one of her Dangerous zines. I didn't want anybody to know I'd written it, at least until the shockwaves had passed.

I don't remember what happened after that, except for two things: Flamingo accepted the story and Giovanna started doing something odd: from the moment I finished the story disowned it.  She invariably referred to it not as our story, but as my story.  I thought she was being modest—I was really stupid and very isolated.  I kept correcting her, saying that she'd done as much writing on it as I had, and that was true.  But it got wearing, what felt like giving constant reassurance, so I started treating it like a verbal tick and politely ignored it.

I’m 99.9% sure that Flamingo didn’t know we’d written it, not when she accepted it. In October, I went to SHareCon, and while I was there, she asked me to read over this story she’d gotten. She said this story wasn’t dark, it was ultraviolet. She was really crazy about it, but she wasn't that familiar with Wiseguy and she needed a Wiseguy fan to read it over.  She asked if I would do it.  I said yes.

She never sent it to me.

I found out later Giovanna had given the story in an incomplete form to a mutual acquaintance, and she had showed it to Flamingo.

But before that, there was the edit.

The zine was coming out in April, and by March I hadn’t gotten the story back for editting. So I wrote Flamingo asked about it, and was sent an edit. Most of it was no problem, but one question was about the ending—the original ending—which Giovanna had written. I couldn't answer the question. I couldn't get a hold of Giovanna to get an answer from her. She hadn’t spoken to me since Christmas, for reasons I still don’t know. I finally left her a message saying that I was going to make the suggested change because I didn't know what else to do.

From practically the moment it was finished, she had been talking about the story as my story rather than our story, & it felt very weird, that she suddenly wasn’t taking any responsibility for it. It would have been one thing if it was a normal story, but this is an incendiary device. I was really scared about publishing it, even under the pseud.

We had a weird conversation during which she kept insisting it was my story, mine and mine alone, she had not written any of it. (Though, oddly, she refused to say in so many words that she hadn't written any of it.  I felt like I was being set up for something.)

So I said I’d be editting it.

Before I did that, I wrote to Flamingo, to let her know what was going on.  I came out as the writer, which was no surprise to her, but her reaction shocked me.  This was how I found out that Giovanna had given the story to someone else—Flamingo said she’d been told I sent the story to the mutual acquaintance, but that wasn't true. As far as I knew, only five people knew about this story: Giovanna, me, Pat (who was dead), and the two friends I'd been whining to, and neither of them even know the person who showed the story to Flamingo.  I was expected not to remember who I'd shown the story to, but when you're that afraid, you're very careful.

Flamingo didn’t seem to want me to rewrite it, but I refused to publish something I hadn’t written, and by the way, fuck Giovanna.  If she wanted her writing published, she shouldn't have disowned it.

I spend the next two days rewriting. I removed practically everything I was sure was hers and rewrote it.

It was a relief on a couple of levels.  It was cathartic to rid myself of those vestiges of Giovanna, to trash her work.  And it was lovely to get rid of her ugly, horrible words.

I kept the title because I didn't have one.

I came up with a new pseud, one that reflected how I felt about the whole thing.

And in lieu of a writer's credit for whatever residue of Giovanna might be left on the story, I put in a dedication: for that lovely March day.

And that was it.

Later, I asked Flamingo to tell me what had happened. I'd been screwed over by at least two people who had called themselves my friends and I wanted—I guess I wanted to know how stupid I'd been. She told me that it was so long ago, she didn't remember. She further told me that it wasn't important. My experience has been that other people's violations are never important, and I wasn't important to Flamingo anyway.

*(Citation Lost)
carose59: writing about writing (always something more to say)
The English Language Was Carefully, Carefully Cobbled Together By Three Blind Dudes And A German Dictionary.*

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I've been listening to Penn Jillette's Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday!, and I think I've found my soulmate.

Practically the first thing he talks about is how the lyrics to Shaft drive him crazy and here's why. The tune is great, and up until the very end they lyrics are perfect in their simplicity. But then we get to this: He's a complicated man/But no one understands him but his woman/(John Shaft).

The first problem is that first But. It makes no sense. Saying he's a complicated man but no-one understands him but his woman makes it sound like as a complicated man, everyone should understand him, which is not what being complicated means. It would make morse sense to say and no-one understands him but his woman. He's complicated; only his woman understands him. But Jillette's stand is that there's no need for anything there. Just, He's a complicated man/No one understands him but his woman would be fine, it scans.

That's aggravating enough, but the there's the (John Shaft). Following directly after But no one understands him but his woman, it sounds like his woman's name is John Shaft, which—well, maybe it is. He's a complicated man, he could have a woman named John. (By this time, I'm giggling uncontrollably.) But that's kind of unclear, maybe it should be Mrs. Shaft.

All of this is really funny, but the reason he's my soulmate is the Jackson 5's I'll Be There, a song I really like but which has a line that drives me nuts. It comes late in the song and it goes If you should ever find someone new/I know he better be good to you/'Cause if he doesn't/I'll be there (I'll be there).

The problem is the verb doesn't. It should be isn't, because it goes with he better be good to you, the verb is be. Does doesn't enter into it. What he's saying is "if he doesn't be good to you," when what he should be saying is, "if he isn't good to you."

Penn Jillett is clearly a grammar nerd and would understand this. I find this very comforting.

He also understands something I've been saying for years: how it is possible to lie and tell the truth at the same time, or how it is possible to say something that isn't true that is not a lie.

This is important. Lying requires intent.

If I tell you something I believe to be true, but which, in fact, is not, I am not lying; I'm just wrong. If I tell you something that I believe to be untrue—even if it really is true—I'm lying (at least in my heart).

*Dave Kellett

What I'm doing here

Friday, 6 May 2016 12:14 am
carose59: writing about writing (always something more to say)
"That's An Illegal Use Of A Silent Consonant."*

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I love writing. Writing does a lot of things for me: it helps me keep track of things; it helps me thing logically about things; it entertains me; it helps me communicate clearly; it distracts and distances me when I'm upset; it teaches me about myself. Those are some of the reasons I resolved to write here more often.

My goal was to post every day—which never meant writing every day. (That's in the past tense because I've already missed several days.) I don't have the time or focus to write a whole post every day, at least not about the things I'm interested in writing about. So I gave myself permission to post some of my odd photos and some poetry by and stories about the Algonquin Round Table. I also decided to move some things I posted in other places over here. I wanted to consolidate. And I wanted to make the most of my words.

That's something a writer learns fast: don't waste words. Writing is hard, and once you've managed to do it right, to say something that seems worth sharing with the world, you want to make the most of it.

It becomes automatic. You're writing a response to something on Facebook and it gets a little long, you copy and paste it into a word processing document because why waste those words in on a small audience of mostly-strangers and people who will never read you again when you can post it where your target audience is?

I recently listened to The Big Sleep. I'd read it before, and since then I've seen the movie numerous times. This time was different. What really stood out were how few changes there are in the dialogue of the movie.

I mean, the plot's mangled. Done to satisfy the Code, the dirty plot was cleaned up, but it somehow became a convoluted mess. But the dialogue? William Faulkner (who I believe wrote the original screenplay) was a very smart writer. They had a whole book full of Raymond Chandler's sparkling dialogue; what kind of fool would throw that out, just to write words that said the same thing? I can just hear it, "I keep the dialogue, rearrange it where I have to, now all I have to do is re-plot the damn thing."

If the soul of writing is made up of all the intangibles it gives me, this is the pragmatic body of it: words are a commodity and writers know how to make the most of them.

*Crow T. Robot

Random amusing stuff

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 11:58 pm
carose59: amusements (a medley of extemporanea)
[Originally posted elsewhere May 27, 2007]

I'm not on anything; I'm just feeling really good for no particular reason. Well, maybe one particular reason: I've gotten a real handle on the WIP [The Roadhouse Blues series], which was a mess just a few days ago. Today it's nearly done, except for some research (what they're having for dinner). [This was a severe over-estimation.]

And today I was doing a little research on flavored lube and I ran across this: Sliquid Swirl flavored lubes

Which I read as Squid Swirl flavored lube. Now, I like calamari as much as the next girl but I wouldn't use squid flavored lube. (Actually, I blame this misreading on my mother and the Detroit Redwings. My mother's a little obsessed with the tradition of fans throwing an octopus on the ice during Redwings playoff games; she's been asking everyone she knows if they know the fans do this. It's pretty hilarious. So naturally I have squid on the brain. So to speak.)

Also there was the commercial for planting more trees in Indiana. They showed various politicians planting trees—well, you know, turning over the first, ceremonial shovelful of dirt before turning the real work over to the real workers—and the voiceover guy talked about how important it is to have lots of trees, how it's good for the environment, and how trees prevent crime—

Wait, what? How do trees prevent crime?

I've seen the commercial again, and they do say that, but they don't explain it. Crime-fighting trees. I keep picturing my chokecherry tree in a cape.

Do the mashed potato

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 08:39 pm
carose59: writing about writing (always something more to say)
[Originally posted elsewhere October 20, 2005]

I Like To Play Blackjack. I'm Not Addicted To Gambling, I'm Addicted To Sitting In A Semi-Circle.*

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An acquaintance asked about "mashed potato" stories—that is, comfort stories. I started writing a comment, but it all got out of hand and OT, so I thought it would be better to post here.

The idea of comfort reading interests me. There are novels that I have a deep love for because I read them during times of terrible personal crisis. I don't go back and read them again because there isn't really anything special about any of them, nothing to make me love them the way I do. I love them because they saved me, the way you'd love a life raft. You'd love it, but you wouldn't show it to people and claim it was the Queen Mary. There are some movies and TV shows that I feel that way about, too. Last year I was addicted to L&O for its incredible ability to comfort me. I'd tape a tape full of shows, then on the weekend I would turn on the tape, tip my chair back, wrap myself in a blanket and sleep. I needed the distraction of some safe TV to keep me from stressing and not being able to sleep.

Fan fiction doesn't do that for me. Finding an occasional brilliant piece of writing in something I'm interested in (like, say, the A Separate Peace story recently posted to yuletide treasure) is like finding an extra episode, or in that case, an extra chapter. But there's been so little new fan fiction in my preferred fandom that I don't even know how I feel about it anymore, or what it does for me. Wiseguy is my only real fandom (that is, the only thing I write seriously in), and coming across a beautiful piece of fiction is like getting a love letter from a dead lover: it's lovely, it's beautiful, and it means nothing. Your lover is still dead and will not be coming back.

For me, comfort fiction is what I write. The biggie was a story so dysfunctional I should probably show it to my psychiatrist if I ever decide to go back into therapy. I wrote on it only when I was depressed, when I was PMS-ing, whenever I was anxious and unhappy. The story itself was so painful, I couldn't throw myself into it unless I was already hurting, and when I got there, I gave it all my pain. (Poor Vinnie gets all my depression. On the other hand, he gets Sonny, too, so he's doing better than I am.) When I hurt and want to escape, writing is the escape. Maybe that's why I'm not reading anything the way I used to, it doesn't take me away. (I've been feeling guilty over that, that I don't read like I used to, because you know we live in this cult of reading-is-morally superior, which—is reading a gothic romance really superior to playing solitaire? Or is it simply a matter of which one makes your mind feel better?)

Maybe it's why I'm writing so obsessively on this ridiculous AU.

*Mitch Hedberg
carose59: writing about writing (always something more to say)
"Actually, It Was Incredible. It Was Primal. I Mean In The Animal, Not The Numerical Sense."*

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I have successfully written in three areas in my life: poetry, fiction, and essays. (Actually, I've also written a couple of plays, but for the purposes of this I'd file those under the fiction heading. I don't see myself writing fiction anymore.)

I've always known the poetry came from a different place from other things I write because unlike fiction or essays, I can't just sit down and write a poem. But this morning I realized that the essays and fiction come from different places, too. Metaphorically, if the poetry comes from my soul, the essays come from my brain and the fiction comes from my heart. Or maybe what I mean is that these forms are expressions of those parts of me.

Let's start with poetry.

I've written poetry since grade school. I'm sure it rhymed, and I'm sure it was mediocre at best. I wrote poems for school assignments and I wrote them for myself—I wrote a lot of heartbroken poems in high school—but I never let them expose me the way a good poem has to. It isn't talent that makes a poem, it's truth. (The talent's necessary to make the poem readable, but if you're not going to tell the truth, reading it is just a waste of time.)

Then in 1999, I had a pretty serious hypomanic episode and everything changed. I wrote feverishly and honestly, I wrote everything I was feeling and didn't care what anyone thought. I tapped something in myself—something in my soul—and I've been writing from there ever since. With only a few exceptions, poetry comes from a place of emotional chaos; it brings order.

The thing I love about poetry is that it's the language of metaphor, deflection, and distance. When you can't say the real words, metonymy can save you. Take two steps back from the thing that's trying to kill you—grief, shame, depression, anxiety—call it by another name, and tell the truth about it.

It's nice that people like my poetry. What I really like is that people who don't normally like poetry seem to like it, and that it seems to resonate with people. It's a lovely feeling, knowing your words are useful to other people. Helping people articulate their confused emotions is one of the best things art does.

But even if that wasn't happening now, I'd still write poetry because I believe that if anything I write will live after me, it will be the poems.

*Dr. Larry Fleinhardt
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
I am not a writer.

I know this because I have been assured that what makes a writer is, writers write.

Writers write.

I post pictures, and poems by people no-one has ever heard of, and things I wrote years ago, to avoid writing. Writers write.

Writers write even when no-one reads the words. A real writer would write words that would live their lives in a drawer, never seen by anyone else.

A real writer would write in the sand, never despairing of the tide coming for the words.

Writers write.

A real writer can withstand any criticism.
A real writer develops a thick skin and feels no pain.
A real writer can endure the harshest edit.

I went to the library yesterday and there was an authors' fair: writers clumped together in a small meeting room with shiny displays of their books and bowls of candy to entice the unwary, the potential readers, depressed girls like me.

I was given a sheet to get stamped. A fully-stamped sheet would win me the opportunity to win a prize I don't remember.

Everyone was smiling, everyone was welcoming, everyone was enthusiastic. When asked, I told people my favorite kind of book is mysteries. I listened to what their books are about and feigned enthusiasm. I got my sheet stamped. I was given bookmarks and business cards and at one table, a small red bag with a bookmark and business card and small disposable package of kleenex.

I took a piece of chocolate. Hershey's Special Dark.

I made it halfway around the room, then I pretended to get a phone call. I had a heated imaginary conversation with my mother about where I was and when I would be home. I walked out of the small room, preoccupied with my imaginary difficult mother.

I escaped.

I sat in the car and read about Shirley Jackson and thought about how if I had to do this to sell a book, I would kill myself.

Which is all right, because I am not a real writer.
carose59: writing about writing (always something more to say)
In Marilyn's House The Milk Cartons Were Put Away So Promptly That They Never Sweated, And The Mayonnaise Was Treated Like Some Hopelessly Insane Relative That Was Never Allowed Out. *

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For reasons I can't remember, I decided a few days ago I needed to re-read We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I wanted to read it all in one afternoon, so I waited for today. I mostly read it in the car, though it did get dark and so I had to come in the house. (In between reading, I did some shopping.)

If you haven't read it, you should. Go now and read it. It's only one hundred and fifty pages or so. Do not read this first; there are spoilers.

I was thirteen when I first read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a year older than Merricat when she poisoned her family. (This happens before the novel starts.)

I fell in love with her immediately. (This was also the first Shirley Jackson I'd ever read; After You, My Dear Alphonse wouldn't come along for another year, and we didn't read either The Lottery or Charles in my grade school or high school.) I was grabbed by the title, held by Merricat, whose life I understood. We were sisters in superstition and torment.

The first scene in the novel is the best description of what it's like for a depressive or agoraphobic to go out. She's walked into town for groceries and library books, and her route is problematic: crossing the street where the cars don't stop (and might actually want to hit her); walking past the men who sit outside the general store and comment on the Blackwood family; stopping in the diner for coffee to show them she's not afraid of them. She pictures the town as a game board, moving over the squares: lose one turn when it takes too long to cross the street, go back to the beginning if you drop the groceries. She pictures the townspeople dead or dying.

That feeling of being watched by malignance nicely sums up my grade school experience, and it seems to run in my family; my grandmother was sure the neighbors were watching and it's my opinion she wasn't wrong. It attacked again after my house was broken into the first time—and I wasn't wrong then. My house—and my cousin's—were broken into by people who lived behind us.

I've found that people who write about this book tend to be disturbed by Merricat. Yes, she killed most of her family for not giving her the kind of adoration she wanted, and in the novel itself, she burns down most of the house to get rid of an unwelcome cousin who is threatening to evict her. And I'm sitting here thinking, why is there a problem with this? But there's a pervasive idea that we're only allowed to like characters we agree with, admire, would want to be like, or be friends with. I've never understood that. I had read Wuthering Heights the year before, memorized great hunks of it, adored Cathy and Heathcliff—but never had any interest in being like either of them, let alone knowing someone like them. Sometimes that's what literature's for, but not always. Sometimes it's so you can enjoy things you don't want to happen.

I'm much, much more tender-hearted than Merricat or Cathy and Heathcliff. I don't have to want to be Merricat to find her story satisfying. She takes action; she doesn't let herself be stepped on. When you live a life where you can't do that, reading about someone who does is wonderful.

Merricat wasn't even my first child-murderer. That would be Josephine Leonides, another young girl who killed her family members, in Agatha Christie's Crooked House. That was my first Agatha Christie, and I loved it so much, I started buying the books. And yet I've somehow never killed anyone. Maybe that's why I've never killed anyone.

Shirley Jackson, like Emily Bronte, wrote magical, dream-like prose, and reading it always takes me somewhere where the world is strange and dark and primal, and things might not end happily, but they are satisfying.

*(George), E. L. Konigsburg
carose59: movies (the real tinsel)
"Well, I Was Always Cast As An Artistic Homicidal Maniac. But At Least I Was Artistic!"*

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In 1982, Deathtrap came out. It's a comedy-thriller by Ira Levin, author of Rosemary's Baby, and it's not surprising I fell for it hard.

Ira Levin was a prolific author—he also wrote The Stepford Wives, Critic's Choice, Sliver, The Boys From Brazil, A Kiss Before Dying, Dr. Cook's Garden, No Time for Sergeants, and he ghosted the screenplay for Bunny Lake Is Missing.

He wrote other things, too, but those are the ones that became movies. I've seen them all.

I always thought my introduction to Ira Levin was through The Stepford Wives. It was first published in two parts in The Ladies' Home Journal, which my mother subscribed to and which I read. I was lucky—I happened to read the first part just the day before the next month's issue arrived, so I didn't have to wait long. It's a good thing; I was on tenterhooks. I loved it so much, I bought it in paperback as soon as it came out. I still love it. And I love the movie—the first one, with the screenplay by William Goldman. That man really knows how to write a buddy flick, and he does as well for women as for men.

But I only just found out about Ira Levin ghosting the screenplay for Bunny Lake Is Missing, a movie I have loved since I was six years old. It is definitely not a children's movie, but I was so crazy about it, I told my mother I wanted to read the book it was based on. I don't know if it was my mother or my father who read it. I do know it is really, really not a children's book. My mother didn't tell me I couldn't read it, but she did tell me it wasn't much like the movie, which was enough to discourage me. I did read it when I was in high school.

Next came No Time for Sergeants, which I saw on TV. Andy Griffith was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the play, and he reprised his role in the movie. That was also where he met Don Knotts, and how Don Knotts got his role as Barney Fife. It's also where they got the idea for Gomer Pyle. It's hilarious movie, and for people who are used to seeing Andy Griffith as the straight man, it's a joy to watch him being funny.

I don't remember when I first saw Critic's Choice, but I'm sure it was on TV. I just watched it again yesterday, and it's still just as funny. You wouldn't expect the man who wrote Rosemary's Baby to write such marvelous humor. And even if you're not a fan of Bob Hope movies, you'll like this one. It's not typical Bob Hope.

I don't remember when I first saw Rosemary's Baby, either, but again I loved it. He's so good at grounding his horror in reality, and for me that makes it so much scarier.

I liked the book of Sliver, but I didn't care much for the movie. I actually watched it again fairly recently—and still didn't like it. I saw The Boys From Brazil on DVD a couple of months before Pat died, and I liked it well enough. I'm almost positive we saw the remake of A Kiss Before Dying at the drive-in, and since I have only the vaguest memory of it, I think it's safe to say I didn't have a particularly strong reaction to it.

I had wanted to see Dr. Cook's Garden for years and years. It was a TV movie, and it's pretty obscure. But it's on youtube, and I watched it a few months ago, and I really liked it. It is not a comedy.

And now back to where we started: Deathtrap.

I don't know how many times we saw it in the theatre. We both loved it—that much I'm sure of. Pat and I had the same sense of humor. Our favorite line was, "Do you know what this play would net its author in today's market? Between three and five million dollars. And that is without the Deathtrap T-shirts." And being us, we took the next logical step: we had Deathtrap T-shirts made.

The newspaper ad was a Rubik's cube with the faces of the characters peeking out the top. So we got T-shirts with a Rubik's cube on them. It came with the words I KNOW THE ANSWER on top, and we had added underneath: DEATHTRAP. I seriously doubt if anybody who saw us wearing those shirts had any idea what they meant.

We didn't care. We had Deathtrap T-shirts.

*Donald Sutherland

Not a bad day

Saturday, 6 February 2016 10:58 pm
carose59: crime and other violations (i read the news today oh boy)
"A Man Was Born, He Lived And He Died. The End!"*

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I saw something odd this afternoon.

I was downtown to see Diane, parked in the parking lot for Roberts Park Church, and there was a line of men at the end of the parking lot. It wasn't readily apparent what they were lined up for; there was nothing at the beginning of the line. But a few yards away was a bench with a couple of men talking on it, and another man just standing there, a few feet away. From what I saw, it looked like the men were lined up to talk to the guy on the bench. I don't know what the man standing there was doing; maybe he was the guy's secretary.

I have no idea what this was all about.

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I walked over and got a pizza from Bazbeaux. (It's about a block from the church.) Besides having really good pizza, they're the only place I know of where I can get a shrimp and red pepper pizza.

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The session with Diane was good. I no longer feel like a sociopath. I figured out that I no longer care if my mother approves of me or is happy with me, because her disapproval and unhappiness aren't caused by anything I'm doing. It's very freeing. I'm mostly worried about feeling guilty about this later, but even if I knew how to make myself feel crappy right now, I don't think it would ward off bad feelings later. So I'm going to focus on coasting and enjoying myself. (Worrying about feeling bad later is typical manic-depressiveness, in my experience. Neither ups nor downs last forever, but the feeling that downs are payment for ups is pervasive.)

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Biting is very important to Meg, but he seems to have learned that there are acceptable ways of doing it. He bites my sleeves, and he also does this sort of mouthing thing where he only uses his lips and not his teeth. I praise him for this because it doesn't hurt and it's adorable.

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At the book sale the other day, I found a copy of one of my all-time favorite books: The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. I love anecdotes, and I also love that the book itself is seven hundred and fifty-one pages long with a green cover. Its title refers to the publishing company Little, Brown. And besides all that, it was edited by Clifton Fadiman.

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Tomorrow I turn fifty-seven.

*Lucy Van Pelt
carose59: Dark Shadows (I don't understand!)
"That's Probably Asking A Lot Of The Metaphor."*

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I've been re-watching Dark Shadows for a while—a month, maybe two. Time starts losing all meaning when you marathon a TV show, which is one of the things I love about watching that way. And I've been thinking about why Dark Shadows—a flawed, Gothic, supernatural, patchwork soap opera—is still picking up fans lo, these many years later.

Mostly I don't think about why we love what we love because mostly it's a waste of time. It's a matter of resonance. You don't see it as much as you used to, but you used to see scenes of wine glasses being broken by a loud, pure, sustained musical note. There's more to it than that, though. Objects have resonance. If you strike a wine glass, it makes a sound, a note; it makes music. Whatever note the glass makes is the note that can break it. If the glass is C and you use an E, you won't break it.

And so it is with the things we love. If they don't cause resonance, vibration inside us, they can't break through to the passion part of our selves.

But I do like to think about the whys of things, and at the end of each Dark Shadows disc is an interview with an actor, writer, director, technician, and at some point they're asked why the show has lasted. Maybe I can only hear that question so many times before I start trying to answer it myself. In a way, I'm more qualified to answer than most of the people being asked because I'm one of the lovers, while they're the creators of the beloved.

My mind wandered around, picking up words like purity and innocence and passion. The beauty of something flawed but uneditable, something so of the moment trying to fix it would only destroy it. None of that gelled, and if it doesn't gel, it isn't aspic.

Then, this morning I thought of something Alfred Hitchcock said about movies: "What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out?"

Then I thought about what Arthur Quiller-Couch** said about writing: "Murder your darlings." What that means is, no matter how much you love a line, a scene, a description, a character—if it doesn't fit, you have to remove it. (You say you'll save it, use it some other time, but that happens almost as often as lottery winners are struck by lightning. It's just something you have to tell yourself so you can commit the murder.) The story has to work, and if that means pulling out the wonderful description that throws the whole thing out of whack, you pull the wonderful description, kiss it tenderly, promise you'll use it somewhere, sometime, someday. And then the story flows properly. Think of it as having a giant diamond in the middle of your river, one that obstructs the boats that try to travel down the river. "It's a diamond!" you keep telling yourself as boats hit the big rock and capsize. "I can't just get rid of a diamond!" But if your goal is running a river (please ignore the way my analogy is breaking down), that diamond must go.

And then I realized that the Dark Shadows writers never killed their darlings, they never threw away diamonds, they didn't care about the story as a whole, or the river or any other half-assed metaphor I might come up with. They cared about the good parts.

Which, of course, led me to William Goldman and The Princess Bride.

Everybody's seen the movie, of course. But before the movie was the book, and while the movie is really great, the book is fucking brilliant.

In the movie, we start with a little boy recovering from an illness being read to by his grandfather, and then we move into the story the grandfather is reading. Occasionally we come back to the boy and grandfather, but mostly it's the story-within-the-story that we see. It's only a little more complicated than a regular movie. They could have made the movie without the boy and grandfather. It would have been less textured, but it probably would still have worked because The Princess Bride is a magical movie. It even has a magical origin story.***

But the book isn't magical, it's brilliant. It's complex, fanciful, sophisticated, mythic, and smart. It's a cousin to Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, telling you not only the story it's telling you, but a few other stories besides. It's stories all the way down.

In The Princess Bride, William Goldman (a fictional character) is trying to find a copy of a book his father read him when he was a young boy. The book was the classic novel The Princess Bride, a swashbuckling tale of romance and adventure. It started Goldman's love of literature, and he wants to buy a copy for his son's birthday.

He buys a copy long-distance—he's in California, his son and the book store are in New York. He's hoping his son will be just as dazzled as he was by this incredible book.

Only, his son isn't. He's bored to tears. And when Goldman gets his hands on the book, he can see why. Yes, there's adventure in the book, but what the book is really about is the country of Florin, and much of it is parochial and dull. Goldman is baffled. What happened to the book he loved so much?

Well, what happened is, his father only read him the Good Parts, the parts he knew a twelve year old boy would like. And Goldman has a brainstorm: he will edit The Princess Bride down to the Good Parts and get that published.

What follows is the story you've seen in the movie, but there's so much more. There are footnotes, glorious, sometimes-page-long footnotes,**** hilarious, smart footnotes that are just Goldman talking to us, the readers.

I was about fifteen when I read The Princess Bride. I had no idea it was all a wonderful farce, that the real William Goldman had no son (he has two daughters) and that this was his Wuthering Heights,***** complicated and brilliant and wonderful.

Dark Shadows. I was talking about Dark Shadows.

Dark Shadows isn't the real novel The Princess Bride, because the real novel is a beautiful, well-crafted, highly-polished story. Dark Shadows is the story the fictional William Goldman's father read him. It's not just life with the dull bits cut out, but story with the dull bits cut out, it's distilled story. It's everybody's darlings, Dan Curtis's and Sam Hall's and Violet Welles's and yours and mine. It's soap opera on speed. It's the opposite of murdering your darlings, it's dress up your darlings and push them on stage, and who cares if the continuity is wonky, and time travel that makes Back to the Future look like a documentary, and sometimes it's astonishing and suspicious, this resemblance to an ancestor and sometimes nobody even notices, and sometimes the cemetery is five miles away and other times a little girl can walk there in a few minutes, and misspelled gravestones that wobble or disappear altogether, and I could go on all night in these dark shadows.

But I won't. Because what it is is us all being children together, and I'm going to be a ballerina and a queen and a fairy princess and an angel, all at once.

*Colby Granger
**I don't care what you've read about William Faulkner, Arthur Quiller-Couch said it first.
**The magical origin story of the movie The Princess Bride is thus:
Carl Reiner wrote a play called Something Different, which was on Broadway in 1967. That season, William Goldman was researching a nonfiction book about Broadway, and he went to as many plays as he could, some of them more than once. He also interviewed playwrights and other people involved in the theatre, which was how he met Carl Reiner. He loved Something Different (which did not do well) so much, he kept going back to it. He wrote glowingly of it in the book he ended up writing (The Season), and he sent Carl Reiner a copy. And, when he wrote The Princess Bride, he sent Carl Reiner a copy of that, too.

Which is how Rob Reiner happened to read it.

Which is how Rob Reiner happened to fall in love with it and want to make it into a movie.

Which is what happened.

****Maybe that's where I get my love of footnotes.

*****Wuthering Heights is complicated and brilliant and wonderful, but it's also goofy. Most people wouldn't use the word goofy to describe it, but most people don't remember (if they ever knew) how insane the structure of the story is. It isn't straightforward Cathy-&-Heathcliff. It isn't even narrator-telling-us-about-Cathy-&-Heathcliff. No, it's narrator-telling-us-a-story-he's-being-told-about-Cathy-&-Heathcliff. Who does that? Emily Bronte, and she was not to be trifled with.
carose59: amusements (a medley of extemporanea)
This Particularly Rapid, Unintelligible Patter
Isn't Generally Heard, And If It Is It Doesn't Matter!*

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I don't remember which Robin Cooke book these are from, because it's been a few years. I listened to several, and while the plots were mostly engrossing and believable, my attention was constantly drawn to parsing the sentence structure. How did a man whose writing was so awkward become so successful as a writer? Here are some examples I preserved for posterity. Or, really, you guys.

"How are you feeling?"

"As best as can be expected."


His eyes had gone from fully closed to fully open, such that the whites could be seen all around his irises.

[is this translated from some other language?]


. . . which Lou insisted on calling the morgue. Although Lou knew that OCME was a lot more than the morgue, and that the actual morgue was only a small part of the operation . . . [because OCME was a lot more than a morgue, though the morgue was there, but there was more to it than that. You see.]


. . . he was feeling very rested and happy, as well as wonderfully ignorant of what had occurred the previous evening. ["Man, am I glad I don't know what happened last night!"]


He thanked himself for hiring someone as good as Jacqueline . . . [it's good to be grateful to yourself]


He dialed Shitoshi's cell phone number, which he'd committed to memory. With an uncomfortable premonition building with each hollow ring, Ben impatiently drummed his fingers on the edge of the desk. When the pre-recorded generic out-going message came on, Ben's premonition was unhappily vindicated. When appropriate, he left a message for Shitoshi to return the call, adding that he had some good news to report. [I could give you twice the information with half the words.]


. . . with that accomplished, Ben went into his closet and dragged out his coat. [though it struggled mightily]

After ten rings—which she had actually counted— . . . [explaining how she knew how she knew there were ten]

*The Pirate King, Gilbert & Sullivan
carose59: amusements (a medley of extemporanea)
[It isn't so much that I haven't been writing, it's that I haven't been writing very much, and I haven't even been posting what I have been writing. Some of these pieces are months old, and I'm resigned to not finishing them, but I'm going to post them anyway.]

[written April 18, 2012, edits made November 4, 20112]

"A Piece Of Lawn Furniture Fell. All The Way Over."*

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I talked to a robin the other day.

I was walking around the parking lot and I heard a lot of rustling in some bushes. Then a robin hopped out, and I asked, "Was that you, making all that commotion?"

The robin did not answer.

It isn't that nothing's been going on lately, it's just that I haven't cared much. A couple weeks ago I put up a display of my poetry at Central library. I'm going to take some pictures of the display because I think it looks nice.

I'd gone the day before to buy paper to print the poems out on, and I wanted something kind of sepia-looking, like very old photographs. So I went to Arvey's, which is an office supply place near work.

Pat and I used to go there a lot. We also went to Office Depot a lot. We both loved office supplies.

But Arvey's was special. It was where I bought the special papers I used for Dreams Unwind, my Twin Peaks novel, including the back cover that, unbeknownst to me, was heat sensitive. (It was a kind of sea foam green, and if you put your hand against it, the color would temporarily disappear. I only found this out when I got it out to the car, but it seemed so perfect for Twin Peaks. I don't think the paper still does that.)

Arvey's was also where we bought our wedding invitations, and where we bought envelopes for the cards Pat used to make.

It's closing in a few weeks. It's a real place, and real places are becoming obsolete.

I went out for dinner and to another Unbroken Bones performance on Saturday. I wasn't one of the performers, but I had a nice time. I went with my friend Juli. And Diane and Howard were there. I successfully drove home in the dark, and it was foggy, and Meg was waiting for me.

I'm starting to feel better, probably because spring is moving forward. I'm also making real progress on a very old Wiseguy story that had been languishing for many years. Sometimes I'll just think, "Soon I'll be the person who has finished this enormous project." (And I do mean enormous—I've already got about 53,000 words written, and there are still plot points I have to hit.) And it gives me a lift.

I'm getting tired of people describing their posts about the bad things going on in their lives as "first world problems." How many people on your flist have something other than first world problems"?

Actually, I have a friend who is having what I consider to be a second world problem, although she lives in the US. But when she writes about problems she's having, very often it's about her first world problems. That's because they're all her problems, just like all of my problems are my problems–

Which world category would not having a door that closes properly fall in? (I'm talking about both security and keeping the weather out.) And because that was my most serious problem, should it have been the only one I wrote about?

The reason this upsets me so is that I see it as having a chilling effect on writing about whatever is important to each individual at the moment. If I want to write about receiving two broken discs from NetFlix right in a row, I shouldn't feel like I have to add the caveat of, "I'm sorry this is so trivial, I'm sorry I'm not writing about something more important." And neither should anybody else.

*Alonzo Bodden


Monday, 17 January 2011 07:34 pm
carose59: FPA (finding something else on the way)
One thing FPA loved to do was try his hand at other people's styles of writing. Here we have an example of him playing with Edna St. Vincent Millay's style. First, in italics, the original poem (which is one of my favorites).


We were very tired, we were very merry--
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable--
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hilltop underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry--
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry,
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry,
We hailed "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

I was very sad, I was very solemn--
I had worked all day grinding out a column.
I came back from dinner at half-past seven,
And I couldn't think of anything till quarter to eleven;
And then I read "Recuerdo," by Miss Millay,
And I said, "I'll bet a nickel I can write that way."

I was very sad, I was very solemn--
I had worked all day whittling out a column.
I said, "I'll bet a nickel I can chirp such a chant,"
And Mr. Geoffrey Parsons said, "I'll bet you can't."
I bit a chunk of chocolate and found it sweet,
And I listened to the trucking on Frankfort Street.

I was very sad, I was very solemn--
I had worked all day fooling with a column.
I got as far as this and took my verses in
To Mr. Geoffrey Parsons, who said, "Kid, you win."
And--not that I imagine that anyone'll care--
I blew that jitney on a subway fare.

F. P. A.

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
My mother wrote a poem yesterday. Her boyfriend is breaking up with her, so she wrote him a poem.

She called before I went to bed and read it to me. And then we talked, about love and poetry and the connection between the two.

I told her I never wrote Pat a poem until after she was dead.
I didn’t need to.

She understood that.

My mother wrote a poem yesterday because her boyfriend is breaking up with her.
Is breaking, has broken, will break.
She was crying when she finished reading it.

All my life, my parents were married, until my father was dead.
I don't know how to . . .
My mother's heartbreak.
I want to fix her sadness.
But all I can do is listen while she reads me a poem
She wrote because her boyfriend is breaking up with her.
carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
"I Love It, But Of Course I Know Fifty Ways To Love Your Lever."*

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So, besides stealing my car, the thieves—yes, thieves, because I’m picturing a whole gang of them, if for no other reason than they had to do so much just to take it, the Crown Vic did not go willingly, not with a dead battery and a broken leg—

Where was I? Oh, yes—they derailed my plans, sort of. The book I stopped home for is one I wanted to re-read. It’s called Frog Salad, by Sally George. Probably most people who read it would compare it to either The Big Chill or Return of the Secaucus 7. Since I don’t even think those two movies compare to each other, I’ll say that it’s about a group of friends who were activist/college students in the sixties, only now it’s the eighties and life is less black and white and more confusing.

The title of the book comes from one of the characters, an artist, who paints food. His most recent painting, the one he’s working on when the work starts, is of a salad with live frogs sitting on it.

Now, the reason I was going to re-read this book is that I wanted to refresh my memory because I want to write about one of the other characters, Janet, and a secret of Pat’s and mine. I read Pat this book years ago.

I read about a chapter while I was in the waiting room, and I immediately remembered that I hated the way the book ended. So I’m not going to re-read it, and all of this is from memory. But if you’re really interested in the book, send me your address and I’ll mail it to you. But first I’m going to tell you about Janet.

Janet is a perfectly normal woman who wants a penis. That is, she wants one growing out of her body. She’s been waiting her entire life for it to just magically appear one morning, or at least start growing slowly, but she’s realized that this is really unlikely, and she might just have to look into less spontaneous options.

And this is the part where I tell you about Pat, and me, and the secret. Pat was extremely taken by both Janet, and the book’s title. And before I go any further, let me make this clear: she wasn’t confused. She understood the title perfectly well. She just hijacked it for her own purposes, which is exactly one of the reasons I love her.

Anyway, because the frogs on the salad and Janet wanting a penis were the two outstanding elements of the book, Pat conflated the two, and whenever she wanted to point out a particular guy’s—um, package—to me, she’d call it his frog salad. "Check out the frog salad." Eventually we abbreviated it to frog. Which was pretty cool, since nobody knew what we were talking about. It became part of our private language.

Which segues into our private language, which I’ve also been thinking about. I was thinking the other day about how so much of it came from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and why that was—why that show in particular.

Certainly we both knew the show, since we’d been watching it every chance we got since we were very young. That’s one reason. Another is, it’s so very quotable. We were both Dark Shadows nuts growing up, and as adults, but (with some exceptions) not exactly a quotable show. Besides, it’s so cumbersome; DVD was three prime time seasons back when that meant twenty-six shows a season, but DS? Five years in soap opera years. I don’t know how many episodes that is (Pat would've), but I know it’s a whole huge lot.

We both watched a lot of other things, though I’m drawing a blank on what. I Love Lucy, and I do have a tendency to say pizz-a-key-a-trist for psychiatrist, even though the joke it’s from annoys the crap out of me. It’s from some episode where Ricky is looking for a psychiatrist. And he both pronounces the word phonetically (as though he knows how to spell it) and looks it up in the phone book under S (as though he doesn’t know how to spell it), which is sloppy and irritating. And I knew this as a kid. Yes, I was a humor savant.

Oh, there was Gilligan’s Island, but except for both of us believing that Gilligan was the best-ever Hamlet, and always singing the words whenever we heard the music—the music they used in Hamlet, not the Gilligan's Island theme—I don’t think it was all that meaningful. (Meaningful to us. I’m not going to talk about the meaning of TV in general, or GI in particular.) "I ask to be, or not to be, a rogue and peasant slave is what you see—"

Someday I’ll watch through the whole series of DVD and make a list of everything we used to use in everyday conversation (but I won’t post it, since I can’t imagine who would be interested). I still talk in our language, but now nobody has anybody idea what I’m talking about, which isn’t the worse thing in the world, especially since I'm talking to myself half the time.

And, even with Pat gone, I'm still adding to the language. You know that new cow commercial*, the one with the duck who's trying to meditate? And the cows come up and tell him he's doing it wrong, it's not om, it's moo. Well, when Pat would have panic attacks, I would hold her and repeat, "Calm. Calm. Calm." (I had to write it three times, in case you didn't know what the word repeat meant.) I know in my heart that if she was alive, I'd have changed it to "Moo. Moo. Moo," which would not only relax her, but maybe make her laugh.

*Paul Simon
carose59: RSS (music set me on fire)
"If You Want To Be There For Me, Just Make It From Further Away, OK?"*

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In this book I'm reading, the little boy died. (No, it's not Cujo.) I'm going to have to spell-check this carefully, because I'm crying too hard to see the monitor clearly. The little boy died.

And I'm back with Celia, inside her skin, and I'm getting hysterical.

My red pen is missing. I can't do Christmas cards without my red pen. I spent an hour, and missed IMing with Andie, because I was searching for the cell phone.

He died. Where does life go, where does it go? I can't understand it, I just feel this loss echoing in me like Quasimodo's bells going crazy in my head. Why do I feel this loss, it's not my loss, I never even met Him, He just moved into my head when I walked into His mother's house.

(I can't find a consistent way of writing about Him, and I value consistency highly because reality shifts and if you know that you always do a certain thing a certain way, you can recognize it again and you don't get lost. Only I can't do that, so I always get lost. I'm lost now.)

My father died this year.

When I was about nine years old, a woman hit a telephone pole at the corner of our street one evening, and the pole snapped. It didn't break where the car hit (yes, there was a car, it wasn't just a woman hitting a pole, she was driving a car), it broke a couple of yards above the point of impact.

Was the woman injured? Did she die? I can't remember. The power went out, so a lot of us were outside, sitting on our porches, watching whatever was happening—an ambulance arriving, the Power and Light truck. It was summer, the dark was late in coming.

I didn't understand about the pole, how it could break in a place it wasn't hit, why being hit in one place would make it snap elsewhere. I asked my parents, and I'm sure my father explained—he would have known that sort of thing. I don't remember what he told me, but I understand it now.

You take the hit, and you don't even feel it. Everyone is worried; something terrible happened, but you don't know what to do with their concern because you feel fine. Life goes back to normal, until suddenly something snaps. And the something isn't what got hit. A brick hits you in the leg and your arm snaps. How do you explain that? How do you explain that the reason the cable bill is late in December because your father died in February? The connection here is . . . ?

The connection is, I don't know. I don't feel right. I'm out of sync with everything, including paying bills. I think about it, worry about it, but I don't do it because—

I don't know.

The little boy died, and now I'm crying, not over him, it's never over the character in the book, it's about a real-life thing that hurts to much, or stands to close, for me to see it; I can only feel it in reflection, hear it in echo. It has to be oblique, because if I felt it in real-time, it would kill me. The little boy died, so I'm crying over Him, and my father, and myself.

It's always about myself. But we knew that, didn't we?

*Dr. Mahesh "Bug" Vijayaraghavensatanaryanamurthy

July 2017

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