Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pithy And Long Winded Are Not Mutually Exclusive

"Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy"
                                               -F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of my favorites, that.

Between quotations and lists, this is getting a bit formulaic, isn't it? I'll try and knock it off.
 I made a terrible mess looking for any of my writings that might have been floating around here at my parents house, some of it likely ten years old.
Why? these are relics, these scribblings, these typings. I'm not that person any more. I don't ask the same questions, I discovered cadence (I hope), I've written better, recently; surely!
But I haven't. The only meaningful piece of fiction I've eked out in recent years is my play. And that's in perpetual 'Newest Draft' mode. Here's a good time to mention what is probably my deepest, greatest fear: I am, and have been for some time, terrified, terrified, that my creativity is a finite volume that will one day be exhausted. Songs, poems, stories, jokes; I am always concerned that I am not getting the optimal mileage out of my ideas, and therefore wasting them. This started when I was young, I first remember being concerned with it in middle school. A good friend of mine and I had put together a silly little song detailing the absurd things we'd do as magicians. The melody he'd written was pretty charming, and I asked if we should save it for a song with better lyrics. He looked at me, kind of baffled, and said, "Well, we can always write new music...". I'm not entirely certain I took it to heart. I can't imagine any body of my work that doesn't include a lot of what I wrote in high school and college. And I'm not talking about The Viking Portable Library Of John Wray, I just mean any bundle of scratches I might pass on to a lover or descendant... or therapist. I comfort and flatter myself by insisting I bloomed early. But I've probably just run out of ideas. And it goes beyond an unwillingness to let go.
    As some one who is, technically, a professional comedian now (shudder) I do the same thing with jokes. I analyze, plan, test deliveries, fix, try again...even improvised bits I struggle to find ways of resurrecting. Now, thats an easy enough trap for any one in my line of work to fall into, but I promise you, it genuinely does result in sleepless nights. And of course, this ties in a bit with the whole point of this blog: to exercise my creative muscles and keep me thinking and typing. Hopefully, I can force out some eloquence and charm. If I do find the works I've been seeking, they'll be transcribed and posted here, narcissist that I am. I'm going to try and coalesce some of the fringe ideas I've got over the next few weeks, so, hell, maybe you'll see some NEW fiction posted.
     I really ought to enroll myself in some kind of creative writing workshop next time I'm in one place long enough. But, while that will certainly take care of the discipline issue I struggle with, it doesn't address the fear I have of losing steam. What's the cure for that? Is it a valid fear? And if so, what can I do to stave off the emptying of my reserve? If it's a shadow I'm jumping at....well, could you prove it?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Talking With Your Mouth Full Of Certainty

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."

I'm going to talk about food now, with apologies to Jax and Rhonni. For people who talk about food because of their food knowledge, not in spite of it, seek out these admirable ladies. Also, they're my pals.

A series of bests:

Pizza: Mark Anthony's, Onset MA
Lamb: Sir Edmund Halley's, Charlotte NC
Breakfast: Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis MN
Thai food: House of Thai, Marion MA (recently moved from Wareham)
Middle Eastern food: Zaytoon's, Brooklyn NY
Mexican: El Camino Real, Kansas City KS
BBQ: Red Bridge's, Shelby NC
Sushi: Mottsu, New York NY
Fish: Mama's Caribbean Grill, Charlotte NC
Soul food: Mert's, Charlotte NC
"Home Cookin'": Cracker Barrel (I'm sorry, but I swear to god)
Burger: Bob Mcdonald's, Bessemer City NC
Ice Cream: Tony's, Gastonia NC
Bloody Mary: Loring Kitchen and Bar, Minneapolis MN

Special mention must be made for Firebird's, who makes their own Caesar Salad dressing and it is heavenly. Also, Zada Jane's in Charlotte is a runner-up in both the breakfast and Bloody Mary categories.

I encourage using the comments section of this blog to post dissenting opinion, and have a lively discussion. If you feel particularly passionate about a specific resturant, I will gladly accept gift certificates.

Obviously, any list like this is incomplete, limited by exposure and experience, to say nothing of how subjective the topic is. And there are always caveats: Loring is a second for fish, and some of the appeal of Mottsu lies in it's laid back atmosphere. For a trendier, more upbeat sushi adventure, there's Ru-San's in Charlotte and Atlanta. Including chains, Like Firebird's and Cracker Barrel (and c'mon, I was half joking) is blasphemy to some, par the course for others. So all is to be taken with a grain of salt. And this is all pertinent no matter what you're listing.
    So I guess on some level, I'm also thinking of great films right now, because that's what's really on my mind-the act of ranking and listing. I love few things more than the heated defense of great art. But to rank such things with any conceit of universal agreement is just silly. I can tell you my ten favorite films, but it must be understood you might just revile them. There's a new kind of survey of sorts floating around facebook. It isn't new precisely, but the wording of these things is what captures my attention. Usually, the reader is asked to list around ten or twenty entries: authors, movies, books, or songs. But the point isn't to list favorites, just any 15 or so which had an impact or jump readily to mind. Isn't that charming?
    I had a conversation recently with two friends about a film that two of us rather adore and the third in our party very much disliked. The discussion turned to argument because while we were excited to defend the film, our friend could for about half an hour only manage to condemn it as "stupid". once he was able to expound on this, it was again a lively exchange of ideas and opinions. And that's all I ever want, really. Let's all get together and chat, articulately and with zeal.
    I leave you another quote:

"Now is the time to get absolutely drunk! On wine, on virtue, or whatever you may please."
-Charles Baudelaire

Again, I hope to see a lot of new recommendations and such. If you're familiar with one of my entries, and hate it, tell me why. If they excel at something else, let me know, I'll order it next time!

Also, for fun: Email me, ( suggesting my next blog topic. I'll try and have it up by Sunday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Whoops, There Goes Another Year, Whoops There Goes Another Pint Of Beer

Birthday Playlist:

"greetings to the new brunette" - billy bragg
"bean bag chair"- yo la tengo
"shasta" Vienna Teng
"this is the road" you were spiralling
"long gone" bill morrissey
"Are you happy now" richard shindell
October" eric whitacre
"i won't be found" tallest man on earth
"up the wolves" the mountain goats
"sparkplug Minuet" mark Mothersbaugh
"queen of hearts" Romantica
"let it blow" richard thompson
"yip/jump music" clem snide

birthday present to myself: damn the grammar!

Do those of us born in fall think more deeply about the passage of time? if your birthdays in spring, is it all about new beginings?  for me its all swirling leaves and sweaters, maybe a denim jacket. boots and cider. browns. its all browns and greys and blacks for me though, isn't it?
    people are always asking what im doing for my birthday; i've been thrown some lovely parties by wonderful friends, but most years i spend the day with family. which is about how i like it. i'll  be spending this years birthday at the festival. in my tights. it makes sense. i have invested fully in this venture. it's as much Lucio's day as my own, much of my current happiness rests on his (yes, my own) narrow shoulders. also, its a pretty good opportunity to get good and drunk.
    I realized recently that i have stopped being terrified of my future. ENTIRELY. im not scared about direction, or goals, or growing up, or getting by. good god, im happy with my current path, you know? i'm reminded of my pirate ship analogy: i was for a few years trailing behind my friends with their damn grown up jobs, now i'm waving to them on the shore from the deck of my pirate ship. this is a birthday i face with my head held completely high. i just crested the wave of my twenties, but who cares? i got time. the trees are always dying on my birthday, the weather getting colder and the nights shorter. usually it gets me, y'know, here. but i got a whole big world i've recently discovered is much easier to get along with than i'd thought, and i have everything to look forward to. the day for me has always been dark beer and scarves, and now i'm replacing the furrowed brow and contemplation with deep laughter and crows feet. bring 'em, i say. i recently realized: i was wrong about my face. i don't have nearly enough laugh lines.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Teenage Caveman

"Teenage Cave man, rock with skin and bone,
It's the cry of the wild, we cry alone, we cry alone..."
                                                         -Beat Happening

I don't show my pain. I might discuss it, once the worst of it has passed, but I don't seek comfort. I don't plead, I don't shed tears for any one to see. Occasionally, those close to me have seen a breakdown, if it gets to be too much. But mostly, the first wave of grief, guilt, or any kind of hurt is dealt with by myself. Some accept this, some do not. I have learned, through friends, counseling, and the advice of those older and wiser than I am, not to fight this tendency. I have learned that what really matters is how I deal with my hurt, alone. Sure, there's the great possibility that I mismanage my pain, and I've certainly passed through that. But lately, I have learned that if I face my feelings, and let the initial storm pass, I am in a much better position to deal with my emotions rationally, reasonably, and not let them consume me.
This is a coping mechanism that is utterly at odds with classic co-dependence. It makes me stronger, it makes me calmer, it makes me healthier. But a person who wishes more for you to need them than they do for you to be happy, is not likely to be understanding of this. The assumption made is that you are not hurting, have not hurt at all. Never mind the tears shed in private. It's astounding to me that a person could want to see a loved one suffer, that it could be viewed as a kind of testament. Objectively, of course, I understand the logic that leads to this, but I would never wish to see my sister or mother or niece cry for me, would never expect a beak down to prove their love or repentance. To me, the best resolutions to any conflict come calmly. Is this not the ultimate goal? Is this not synonymous with maturity? I've never understood how any amount of hurt could lead to a demand for proof. But I suspect it comes from being unaware of the consequences of one's actions. Often, I am capable enough of recognizing when what I have done has caused pain to another. Rarely do I require seeing this person exhibiting their hurt feelings for me to understand. And often enough, if it does require a broadcast, it's as simple as "You shouldn't have done that". I don't need the proof of tears or shouting. Is that the difference? are there those among us who are unaware of the pain they cause, unless they are MADE aware? Is that why a quiet suffering rings false to them? My privateness regarding my emotions has led me to be accused of being a sociopath, by the exact type of person I am here describing. To me, this rings a bit over-dramatic. I won't be so trite as to suggest that maybe the person throwing the insult is the real sociopath, but the irony is not lost on me.
     Another result of this kind of thinking is a complete lack of serenity. When a person demands fire and havoc in their loved ones, feeds off of it, it should come as no surprise when they themselves are capable of a whirlwind of anger. Every perceived slight, whether driven by their own actions or not, is met with an explosion of anger. Consequences are not considered. The persons sense of entitlement has been violated, and the flood gates open to every negative, hurtful emotion available. Nothing is off limits, and words are said which cannot be taken back. All of this, regardless of target, regardless of audience.
     And when the dust settles, all I am left with is a sense of betrayal. Which is surprising. But something I'd taken for granted was a deep well of respect and appreciation. The truth of the matter seems we had not been two people whose orbits matched and enjoyed each others company. We had something else, and it was based not on a connection to each other, but a responsibility to each other. To me, one definition of love is this: We see the world as a better place for having our loved ones it. It warms us and gives us faith. Regardless of where our relationships lead, we take solace in the knowledge that life can create such people, even after they or we have moved on. I want to hold on to this belief, I want to know that life is good for having given me my grandmothers, both passed; not cruel for having taken them. I want to know that I, and my former partners are better for the time we shared, no calloused from our separations.
     All that I poured in to this relationship was not for a mythic abstraction of 'us', but for the one I gave to. Dazzled and charmed and blessed by this presence in my life, I was comforted that even should it all end, a world that gives me such a partnership can not be all bad. I feel the same way about friends with whom I've lost touch, this is not an exclusively romantic view of love. Should I think on these partnerships more rigidly? Because now, I've been met with one who believes, deep down, that a contract has been broken, and all of its terms voided. there can be no lingering comfort, no looking back and smiling. And that, I think, is the central hurt. That is the tragedy. The waste. My stored up hope that in some way we bettered each others lives, permanently, immutably. This hope was for nothing. I reserve a chamber inside me for continued admiration, respect, and a kind of distant quiet friendship. I want to be glad this person walks the earth, I want them to be glad I do. As hurt, sad and angry as I may be, each day I recognize I get farther from the pain, and it is up to me what I am left with: do I heal, or do I scar? To heal, I think is owed. Is fair. Allowing myself to scar, doing so that not a further slap in the face to all that was good? Do we not owe it to the good times, to ourselves, and to what we once held dear to look back, remember and smile? Or is the virtue in the opposite- Do we gain more, respect ourselves more, by never yielding up the sense of loss?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Sea Story

The sea was rough, and the tiny rowboat was being thrown up on the crest of each wave, and there was almost an elegance to the arc it defined. The clouds were a dark iron, and the thunder rolled almost continuously. The sky was an anvil against which anything could be tempered. Nearly lost in the expanse, the boat was flung forward on each wave, and rocked considerably, but never tipped to expel it's cargo.
     Huddled beneath the sides of the tiny craft, soaking wet, cold, and frightened, two sisters clung to one another, hoarse from weeping, shivering and sobbing. Neither knew how long the storm had been ravaging, it was all they had ever known. The seas were empty, void of any limit, but against a solid, charcoal black rock, jutting up from the waves. The rock stood in the path of the boat, and like an arrow, the tiny craft shot strait for it. The screams of the two sisters were barely audible as the boat splintered against the stone, but neither was hurt. One of the two had been flung directly atop the rock, and the other was clutching what she could of the rocks side, half of her body beneath the waves.She looked up, desperate for the other girl to save her, screaming above the waves and thunder. she went unheard. Her sister, perched atop the black stone, was terrified, feeling exposed, and overwhelmed. She narrowed her eyes to one horizon: Was that the way they'd come? she slowly turned her head, to peer in the opposite direction...did she spy land? She was deaf to her sisters cries as she reasoned through it. If that's land, best to try her luck with the sea...if not, would she just be heading back the way she came? No helping it, the current would take her where it would, and better to die in the water than here, alone on the rock. Inch by inch, she pulled her self closer to the edge of the rock, and slowly turned her body, to slip off feet first. As suddenly as her body was in the water, a wave threw her back against the rock. Pain coursed through her bones, as another impact followed. she managed to grab hold, and slowly, laboriously pulled her self around the rock, until the current grabbed her and she was lead away from it forever.
     While all of this was taking place, half in the water herself, the other sister was shivering and panicked. She soon began, hand over hand, with slips, and bruises, and falls, pulling herself up the side of the rock. As one girl made her way atop the black rock, her sister willfully floated away from it.
     When the girl finally made it out of the water, and had collapsed where her sister had landed, the thunder stopped, and the seas began to calm.