Sunday, June 22, 2008

22 Lbs. and counting

Two words:
Wedding dress.
(not actual dress)
As much as I want a Caesar salad, hamburger from Char-Grill, sweet potato hash and pork chops, a sausage breakfast bagel from Brueger's or any of a number of my favorite foods, the terror of wedding pictures displaying what I affectionately call my "ham arms" (not actual arms) is enough to motivate me to eat better, healthier and be more active. The whole sleeveless things with corset back helps too.

It reminds me of when I was on Vision Quest and all I wanted were real cigarettes, a Dr. Pepper, and a sausage McMuffin from McDonald's. I managed the soda and the cigarettes within ten minutes of leaving camp and while others were reveling in the beauty of birds doing it while they sunbathed naked on the rocks, I was too busy thanking God for concrete, laundry detergent and nicotine. I remember the looks I got as I lit up that first camel, and though it was not a proud moment for me, it was one where I was unabashedly myself with no apologies. After that, I swore I'd never go camping again and that has been an easy promise to keep. I do not heart nature.

Jeff has lost 25 lbs too and looks great. He is growing a beard that makes him look all George Michael-y right now but the verdict is out on whether he actually gets to keep it. I have very sensitive skin, after all, and as hot as he looks with it, I'm not sure it's worth beard burn.
Wedding plans are coming along, we had a teleconference with our caterer at some ungodly hour of the morning on Friday, and we both feel better now. I am still looking for a photographer, florists and hair-stylist so if y'all know of anyone locally please let me know. The girls have picked out some really cute dresses too so I know we'll all look out best. Hopefully sans ham arms. I may put a picture of a ham on the fridge as an extra motivator. 30 lbs to go to reach my goal. 30 lbs in three months. Yikes. I suppose if I need inspiration I can go to some of the pro-anorexia websites I stumbled upon in research for diet pills. This is easily the most fucked up thing I have ever read/ seen on the web and that's saying something. Just google the term "thinspo" (an oh so clever smash up of the words thin and inspiration) and you will see shit like this picture and much worse. I was telling Jeff today that his parents must have been relieved to have three boys, boys being much easier to raise. Dealing with the potential for abuse, pregnancy and body image is a lot of shit to deal with as a parent. I know I am NOT going to so what my mom did, making me feel badly every time I ate and famously saying things like "Do you really have to eat dinner every night?" and "If you keep eating ______ you're going to weigh 600 pounds!" I know now that she didn't want me to go through what she did, being heavy as a teenager and later having a serious eating disorder. But all the scrutiny only made me have a bad relationship with food. I still hate eating with other people as I feel they are analyzing what I eat the entire time. I remember when I was 9 I made a diet up for myself that included raw carrots for dinner. I was fucking 9, y'all. Anyway, the important thing now is to lose weight without sacrificing my health for it. No ephedra this time. If I don't reach my goal weight then I that's just the haps. I'm not going to kill myself over ham arms. I'm also not giving up Char-grill forever.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Jenny, Dives and grateful bagels

So I saw Jenny last night, picked her up at her new super cute house in Cary. I got Jos season 3 of MacGuyver and he seemed genuinely pleased which is nice b/c I always feel like an awkward relative with him in that I want him to like me but I don't want to try too hard and stink of desperation.
So Jenny and I looked at pictures of ourselves from high school and I couldn't believe it because, apparently, at one time, we were children.
I know that sounds ridiculous but until last night, I had forgotten how young we were when it all started. I guess I always thought of us in terms of how old we were. It may seem like semantics, but honestly, until I saw my barley adolescent face smoking and writing on the train (to? from? Rochester?) I hadn't realized that we did not emerge after age 12, fully formed from one another's foreheads.
I decided something this past week, I realized I was ready to forgive people from my past that hurt me, let go of grudges I have harbored for too long. It feels good, to suddenly realize that I'm not angry any more, and shouldn't have been for awhile. It was a long time ago. We were children. I've only been hurting myself more by staying angry.
I told Jenny last night that it feels like that moment on the train I had with her, when we left Rochester for the last time, when I convinced myself not to be in love with Bobby. It was that easy, it was just the rational choice. I chose it, and it left me.
That's what it feels like now, but it was less deliberate, it didn't even fully crystallize until a few nights ago. This time, it left me, without me even realizing it was happening. I feel like I just had surgery to remove some enormous and cancerous mass, but I don't remember anything about it, I just feel better now.
Ugh, I'm really tired, I'm in stats and not paying attention.
So after I picked up Jenny we drove around Cary, futilely looking for a divey bar where the beer would be cheap. No Jack Astor's or big box chain restaurants with $4 beers for us. Apparently those bars don't exist in Cary. So we went to Pantanna Bob's on Hilsborough, and drank cheap domestic beers, and talked and talked and talked. Then I looked at my phone and it was 11.
This always happens when I'm with Jenny, I lose time, or it speeds up, goes too quickly.
She said something funny, she said she feels like she is just now catching up to who Owen was when he was 18. It old her that killed me because I feel like I am just now catching up with the person she was when she was 18.
We talked about the moments in our respective lives when we realized we were atheists. If Nabokov wrote a sentence about Jenny's experience it might read something like:
"I lost fate in God (Cheesecake Factory, traffic) because it doesn't make sense how we got from there to here."
If Nabokov wrote a sentence about my expereience it might read as follows:
"I lost fate in God (Bart Simpson, dead pets) because heaven doesn't make any sense to me."
So I had a little too much to drink amidst all this talk and we had to call Jeff and have him drive Jenny back to Cary. He's so nice, he wasn't mad at all, in fact he was happy we finally had a chance to catch up. I'm a grateful bagel indeed.
Congratulations to Sara and D., he's beautiful. Welcome to the rest of your lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Beauty, Wunderkinds, apologies to DG

So, I read an amazing article by Zadie Smith, author extraordinaire, in of course, The Believer, in which she talks (this is a transcript of a speech given to Columbia's MFAs) about the art of writing, and the fraudulent nature of giving such a speech and then doing it anyway. So, I will admit, I am a sucker for any kind of anything about the art of writing. Maybe it's the editor in me, but I have always loved those prefaces, speeches, impromptu lectures given by those who can really write. I can not really write. I love, as many of you know, fiction, especially short stories, but really all stories, long, longish, longer than should be allowed (Finnegan's Wake anyone?). I love books that force me to stay up all night to read them in one sitting, which I hope all of you know, is the best way to read a book. But still, I can't fucking write something, man, as The Dude would say. Sure, I can write music reviews, which, BTW, is something I fell into more out of desperation to look cool and just write anything more than a real passion of mine. Yes I heart music. Yes I have STRONG opinions about music. OK occasionally I'll write something about music that doesn't make me want to bury my head in the sand, But really? All I've ever wanted to do is write about books and I have never done it. Not. Once. Except on this blog. Which doesn't count. Because 6 people (whom I'm love love love) read it. Because I don't take risks with books like I take with music. Because they matter THAT MUCH. Fuckity fuck fuck. ANYWAY, so that article by ZS (PLEASE scroll back up and click on the link and read the damn thing I've asked you to do this ONCE in the entire life of this blog and I would love for others to read it and feel as daunted as I did) made me feel better and I was wondering why until I realized that I had officially stopped thinking of myself as a writer. Holy shit. NO kidding. I don't write fiction anymore. I just realized that. Despite the fact that I have not written a short story in six years or shown anyone something I've written (fiction) in three, I just realized after reading that article, THAT I DON'T THINK OF MYSELF AS A WRITER, anymore. I am no longer a writer, I am an editor, (at heart), secretly. I don't know that I could ever write, not for real, not like Sara, making sacrifices and spinning sentences as easily as a spider spins webs. Certainly not like ZS, (bitch) who published her first (amazing) novel at 21, nor like any of the hack genre fiction writers whose work comes through the doors of my job everyday. Nora Roberts may indeed be a robotic octopus writer with a human head (affectionately known as Noraroboctopus at work) who turns out more crap novels in a year than I have bowel movements in a month, but at least she puts pen to paper (or tentacle to keyboard as the case may be)and puts her crappy genre fiction bull shit out there. Sigh. ANYWAY, I thought that ZS gave some really good advice, advice I could have used when I was actually writing.

Ahem, so, I do disagree with her on some counts. I have always loved polemics about the art of writing, there is something clandestine and romantic about these staid and tired arguments. Something Dead Poet's Society about reading them and vehemently disagreeing, and then agreeing half way. I mean, measuring a poem by its length? Let's all let out our inner yawps. Let us rip out the pages then subtly pick them up after class like that cute tall guy who isn't credited. I do agree that any opinion about the "art of craft" as she says, is best in a discourse about a particular piece of work as opposed to writing, art, etc. in general. But people who can write can also shed light unto those of us who can't, and wish to. No matter ow staid or pedagogical it sounds, I always listen, waiting, hoping for that secret piece of advice that will unlock the potential I feel is inside of me, that cowers in fear of failing, that is afraid to try, pathetically, at all.

One thing struck me most of all about this piece; that in order to read your work you have to read as a reader not the writer.

Lord, let me tell you the embarrassment of printing something you could retract. Too often I had the unfortunate situation of writing something incredibly intimate and wishing I could take it back. Most often, and especially I refer to those pieces of writing that referred to an old ex of mine, DG. His ill-fated appearance in my life led basically to an expanded music knowledge on my part and then some embarrassingly personal resentment towards him (as explained in at least 3 Hatchet articles with his full and real name (gulp)) when it came to our relationship. I made a mistake, several time over, in writing about him. I could have used 6 months in a drawer with those articles. I could have used six months in relationship boot camp. I'm glad I have y'all to talk to to make mistakes with with NO ONE getting hurt. I am a selfish, thoughtless, slimy, asshole. I wish I could take those articles back. Actually, I wish I could take back the juvenile sentiments that led to those articles. I have a hard time getting over my heart being broken, even when my heart isn't in it.

ANYWAY, anyway, about things on writing, I always feel there is something clandestine and super secret diet pill-y about advice on writing; as in I am always willing to listen b/c I still want to lose weight, you know?

I think writing about writing is fascinating, mostly b/c I can't force myself to do it and I hope someone can give me the magic key to make it come out. I know this isn't realistic, especially after having read ZS's article.

What is not depressing about reading this article is realizing that my strengths probably do rest in editing. I can honestly say I don't know anyone who reads as much contemporary fiction as I do. I think this is an interesting phenomenon as I know a lot of people who are way smarter and engaged than I am. But still, I do it not to gain anything except a good read. Along the way I've discovered what I like (character driven, realistic settings with dialogue that doesn't make me want to bash my head in) and what I most assuredly don't (magical realism, post-modernism for PM's sake, Douglas Coupland dialogue) and I think that, in turn, makes me not a bad editor. I think the worst editors are the ones who can't decide WTF they like. I always said that Kerouac and Fitzgerald were great writers... of sentences. They couldn't write books though, not really, except for endings and then some.

I don't want to be the kind of writer who can only do one thing well. I don't want to be the kind of writer who can fit into the sentence "The kind of writer...". I want to write about corn fields and beauty and potential lost, only b/c these are the things I know, have known, don't need tutorials on.

Fuckity fuck fuck, I don't even remember what I was writing about.

OK love you all, i think I was going to say something about how all of you should read more contemporary fiction b/c these writers are writing about right now, and it matters to read right now more than any other time. All I'm saying is that if all of our parents had actually read one Flew Over the Cooku's Nest maybe state funded psychiatric facilities wouldn't be in the state the are in. (Thanks B & H!)
One last thing, I'm ecstatic about Obama. Get your votin' shoes on, bitches. You too, Marco.