Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How I Know I'm True

     A few months ago, I wrote about being someone between the person I was and the person I thought I was.  And I think there was talk about a third person in there and constant change, and maybe it got a little existential.  I frequently make qualifying statements about myself.  I do worry sometimes that I'm making these statements out of ephemeral ideas; I might be coming to concrete conclusions based on a fleeting feeling. 
     Yesterday, I talked about how much I enjoy candy.  "I like candy more than an adult should" I professed.  Was it possible that I was just saying this about myself with not too much evidence to back it up?  Would outsiders corroborate this? 
     I was having coffee with a friend of mine today, a friend who did not read yesterday's post, and she asked "What did you have for lunch today?  A pound of M&Ms?"  This is how I know I'm true to myself.  I laughed and said no, I had to cut that shit back because I did have a half-pound of Reese's Pieces yesterday.  She laughed knowingly.  She said I have the pallet of the 4-year-old, who also happens to enjoy booze.  Yes, I agree with that assessment. 
     Booze and Candy.  It's not just for breakfast. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Candy for Lunch

     I like candy more than an adult should.  I saw a show recently where one of the players did a short monologue about an ex-girlfriend who always tried to get him to try candy.  His response was "no, I'm an adult.  I don't want candy."  I considered that to be the end of our romance.
     I like it to a fault.  I know I shouldn't like it as much as I should.  I know there is no value in it.  I know there is no protein in candy.  I know they are not low calorie foods.  At the same time, when the question "should I have candy for lunch?" comes up, the answer is never no.
     Lunch is coming up soon.  I have left over chicken waiting in the fridge for me.  I also have a bag of Reese's Pieces with me.  And not a small snack bag either- a full pound-sized bag.  Therefore, I will be having chicken and Reese's Pieces for lunch.
     When survival shopping this weekend, I bought more candy than I probably should have.  But if I was going to die in a hurricane, I wanted to die with candy.
     I suppose I understand why candy is not considered an adult food item.  I get that guy's point.  Years ago, I went to a movie with my friend Tom.  We went all out; we got a large popcorn, Twizzlers, Sno-Caps, and soda.  It was awesome, for about an hour.  Then it all started to settle.  We originally made plans for dinner following the movie.  We walked out of the theater and looked at each other knowingly.  We needed nutrients.  And we needed to be alone for a while.  Chances were good we were both going to be vomiting Twizzlers in the very near future.
     I know when I overdo it with candy, and I always feel like an idiot.  It's something a child would do, because a child doesn't know any better.  I know better, but I still do it.  I then attempt to counteract the pound of black liquorice with gallons of water and heads of lettuce.  Here's a tip: nothing can counteract a pound of black liquorice.  Don't ever eat that much black liquorice.     

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Idiot Brother. A Mini Review.

     I loved this movie.  It was a little different from what I expected, but in the best way.  This movie was propelled by its heart- its giant dumb heart.  
     But the truth is, it's not dumb; he's not dumb.  He just really loves and trusts everything around him.  It's a really good, honest, heartfelt comedy.  I recommend it.   

Friday, August 26, 2011

Secure the Riggin

     I'm actually more concerned about being bored than I am the possibility of starving to death when the power goes out and I have zero food in my apartment.  Yesterday, I was calling bullshit on the storm.  I was still planning to made the trip up to NYC on Saturday.  I was "peshawing" on Irene.  It was all just panic; the storm would head back out to sea before it reached the Carolinas.
     Egg on my face.  I woke up this morning to news reports of Tropical Storm Warnings and evacuation orders.  The MTA is shutting down.  Amtrak already canceled their south-bound trains, surely the northern routes were next.  The weather report used the phrase "rapidly deteriorating."
     Then I started thinking about how prepared I actually was.  Turns out, I am zero percent prepared.  I might have a flashlight somewhere in my room.  The milk in my fridge is bad.  I don't have any other food in there, save for a bottle of champagne and some old beer.  In my cupboard I have a box of oatmeal and a bag of spaghetti.  That is all.
     I started thinking about the things that could be done with the limited supplies I had, and I quickly realized that all of those things would be moot if the power went out.  The power going out is a very real possibility.  Oh no.  The power.  I started thinking about all the things I needed to make sure were charged, like my phone and my computer.  And then, ugh, it sunk in.  If we lose power, there will be no internet.  No television.  No movies.  I'll be so bored.  This is terrible.
     I'd be happy to chew on dry spaghetti noddles and wash it down with scotch for two days, but how am I going to entertain myself?  Read?  For two days?  Come on!  Sure, perhaps I could finally make a dent in Infinite Jest or brush up on Theories of Aerodynamics.  But the entire time I'd be thinking about the dent I could be making in The Mary Tyler Moore Show or the new releases on Netflix Watch Instantly.  I haven't made it through my third viewing of season three of Parks&Rec yet.
     I can already imagine the spiral of depression this boredom will put me in, and I'll end up sleeping through the entire storm.  I'll be dehydrated and malnourished when it finally passes through.  Also, the windows in my apartment are probably the original windows from the 1800s when the building was built.  This should be of greater concern.  However, I've never been able to open them, so I'm assuming the hurricane won't be able to either.  Yes, I am saying that I am at least as strong as the hurricane.
     I've seen the videos from other hurricanes of people boarding up their windows.  It occurred to me for a second, but was immediately followed by the thought that 1. I rent and 2. I'm not doing that.  I'm still trying to stay on the cool, calm, and collected side of this whole hurricane preparedness ordeal.  A recent view of the tracker on the page finally made it sink on that no shit, Irene is on her way.  Stand fast.  Secure the Riggin. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm Rich with Friends

     Thanks, Friends!  And Friends, the popular sitcom that ran from 1994 to 2004.  You are all wonderful.  I have really awesome friends, and they ensured I have the best birthday an aging woman can have.
     Mary took advantage of the time difference so I was able to awake to several wonderful birthday surprises.  A three month premium subscription to Spotify, which is my new boyfriend.  Also, an iTunes gift and a hilarious e-card.  Megan sent me a text at 6:30 in the morning.  I was in a battle with the snooze button at the time, so it didn't really startle me.  Also, I was sort of hoping work was calling to tell me not to come in.  Either because the building indeed collapsed after the earthquake, or just because they knew it was birthday too and I deserved a day to myself.  A text from Megan was just as good.
     My mother called at 7.  Of course she did- why wouldn't my mother call me at 7 in the morning?  It's amusing, actually.  I've accused her of forgetting my birthday in the past, so to prove she knew when it was and that nobody had to remind her, she wanted to call first thing in the morning.
     My sister sent me a box full of socks.  And I really needed socks, so this was a perfect gift.  There were several different styles, all of which I like, and of multiple colors. And then for fun, a few AngryBirds socks.  I can now throw away all my other socks.  Every once in a while I have to just start over with socks, and she knew it was about time.
     Lauri sent me an early morning text as well, and it made me smile all the way to work.  My sister also text, to add to the sock extravaganza, as did Jayne.  There were a few Facebook messages too, from Kelly, Ingrid, Mary, and Kathy, all before 8.  The Facebook messages, texts, and cards continued to pour in throughout the day.  They were all very nice.  I attempted to reply to each one, creating a fun little game for myself.
     Every year on my birthday, at some point I 1) tell the story about when I was too young to read and opened every card saying "Happy Birthday Nancy!" with as much fervor as I could muster, and 2) declare this is going to be my year.  Sitting at lunch with Lauri I told her I was going to give the bartender my phone number because "32 is going to be my year!"  A little while later a gentleman joined us and worked his way into our conversation.  He guessed I was turning 24.  I said he was kind.
     As I was settling in for the evening, I popped in a Friends DVD- The One Where They All Turn Thirty.  I try really hard to not dwell on how well they were doing when they were thirty.  Also, I'm always reminded of a time when Mary and I were watching a rerun of Friends and I made the statement that I didn't think I looked older than they do.  "Really?!" she said incredulously.  And then the longest, most awkward silence ever. We're still friends though.  It's ok.
     I think 32 will be a good year for me.  When I was a teenager, and even in my twenties, I figured 32 was the age I would be best at.  Something about it just suits me.      

Cognitive Dissonance

     We had an earthquake yesterday.  It was weird.  It was disorienting.  I was sitting at my desk on the 8th floor and felt a slight shake at first.  This has actually happened before because of the construction going on all around us.  Therefore, I kind of thought that's what was happening.  I assumed there was a construction accident.  I stood up and looked out the window, and then the shaking got worse.  "Umm, that's weird, right?"  A few coworkers came to the window to look for the cause as well. 
     As I looked around the office and saw the entire building shaking quite violently, I thought "This is probably what an earthquake would be like."  I also thought "You're in DC.  There are no earthquakes here."  And that's when cognitive dissonance happened.
     There have been a lot of news stories about how unprepared we all were and how we didn't behave correctly.  True.  I know I've seen all the earthquake procedure movies and I did not do one thing they tell you do in those.  I stood up and got closer to the window.  I think that's the opposite of what you should do.  But I wasn't really accepting what was happening. 
     The USGS stated we should have been prepared because it's not unprecedented for large earthquakes to occur in this area.  There was a 4.2 in South Carolina in 1896.  Fuck you, USGS.  I realize you look at time differently because you're studying seismic events that happened before people existed, but come on- have a little perspective.  That's a long time between earthquakes.  Technically, a dinosaur walking around isn't unprecedented either, but do you really think we should be covering dinosaur emergency procedures? 
     Early news reports said the Washington Monument was tilting.  This was apparently unfounded, but it is still closed and I guess some experts are actually checking it out for damage.  I hope it's ok.  It's a nice obelisk that really adds something to the city.
     Between the violent shaking and the cognitive dissonance I was left feeling nauseated for the rest of the day.  I just couldn't quite get it together.  I realize to people who experience these things all the time, it seems like we were all overreacting.  But to be fair, we weren't overreacting in the sense that we thought it was a tragedy and we couldn't cope.  We were overreacting because we thought it was the end of the world, because that seemed more likely than an earthquake.  When we learned it was an earthquake, we were confused, and kind of felt lied to.  And then we started overreacting because every person in the district was trying to leave at the same time and no matter how many times the news anchors ask us to be patient, we can't be.
     I was in an earthquake in Seattle once, and it was a very similar reaction.  People just weren't quite sure what had happened.  We stood there and thought "weird."  We didn't think "earthquake."  The earth shook for a little while and things fell from shelves and off walls.  Then that was it.  It was just weird.  It was over before we really had time to process "oh, this is an earthquake."
    This weekend, hurricane Irene is supposedly on its way.  This makes me laugh.  There's a picnic scheduled for Sunday and an email went out stating "If we get hit by a hurricane this weekend, the picnic will be relocated or rescheduled.  We know you're still getting over the earthquake, but we're serious."  Good times.       At least we know the hurricane is a possibility.  I overheard someone say "didn't they give you any warning?" in regards to the earthquake.  No, they can't predict earthquakes.  I actually think that was a big part of the plot of Tremors.  I bet they experienced some cognitive dissonance as well.     

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Combining Things Doesn't Always Make Them Better

      I like science.  I like fiction.  I do not like science-fiction.  The one exception to this is my obsession with The X-Files.  I adored that show, but I think I was more interested in the characters than the aliens.  I liked the battle between science and not-science.  The paranormal and metaphysical could hold my interest because they were grounded in a reality I was familiar with.
     I've never been big on Sci-fi or fantasy.  Apparently, most people are.  Someone recently recommended a book to me and enthusiastically said "It's like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Narnia combined." 
     "I do not enjoy any of those things."
     "Oh.  Then you might not enjoy this."  Then it became as though I was not in the room as everyone else gushed over how ah-mah-zing it is.   
     I ended up in another conversation about sci-fi last night.  I had to sit silently trying to figure out what anyone was talking about.  Again, I like science, and I like fiction, but I've never cared much for science-fiction.  And that tends to (far) extend into Fantasy as well. 

      There are exceptions.  I've seen a decent number of sci-fi or fantasy films, especially those considered important in the realm of pop-culture.  I've seen The X-files films a few times each.  I've read and watched Jurassic Park.  One of my favorite movies is Donnie Darko, though I would venture into an argument that it's not really science-fiction.  I saw Sunshine, which I actually quite enjoyed- I credit Danny Boyle for that.  I enjoyed The Matrix a lot and watched it several times.  I didn't watch E.T. all the way through until I was much older, but it was fine.  And I did enjoy the most recent Star Trek.
     And as I started listing these films, another facet of my indignity towards science-fiction culture surfaced.  I am expected to like science-fiction because I like science.  People are appalled when I tell them I don't like Star Wars.  But I don't like it.  I'd be very happy if I never had to see it again.  This might have something to do with watching it every damn Christmas for 14 years.  Even so, I'm pretty effing over it. 
     It's a whole lump of geek / nerd culture that actually really bothers me.  Like science?  Then you are a nerd and must therefore like all of these things that are labeled for nerds.  But I do not like all of these things.  I enjoy very few of them, in fact.  Well, that might not be entirely true, but apparently fewer than most.  And admittedly, I'm lumping Fantasy into the Sci-fi category, which may be unfair. 
     My simple point was that combining two things I enjoy does not mean I will enjoy that one thing twice as much.  Similarly to that Full House episode where Michelle is trying to earn her cooking badge and she makes chocolate pudding with cheese in it.  It was gross.  Michelle was a moron.  Combining things doesn't always make them better.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning

     Spring Cleaning in August is akin to Christmas in July.  Except that it has nothing to do with  a holiday and isn't 6 months off-set.  It's actually nothing like it.  But I didn't do any spring cleaning in the spring time, but what I'm trying to do now is like what spring cleaning is.  One more exception, however, is I need to spring clean my hard drive. 
     I started going into the details off all the files I have clogging up my hard drive and why they were there and how I let it get this bad, but that was terribly boring.  The point is, I have a lot of files that I just don't need anymore.  But I can't just select all and delete- that could cause major problems.  I have to look at each file to determine its value and relevance and then only delete the ones that are valueless. 
     Yes, I do have an external hard drive.  It also needs to be cleaned out.  I have a 1TB hard drive and I carelessly put tons-o-shit on it.  I thought "A whole terabyte!  This will take forever to fill up."  That is not true.  It is nearly full.  It's about the percentage capacity most computer experts recommend for good performance.  Oops. 
     I do also have regular type spring cleaning to do, though I'm more comfortable with selecting it all and deleting it.  If I open a drawer and don't recognize anything in it, it can all go in the trash.  This of course only applies to small things, like mail and broken pens.  As I've discussed before, with the big items, getting rid of them is harder than it sounds.  Sometimes, I think a fire pit would be useful.   

Friday, August 19, 2011


      I just enjoy saying the word monologist.  Who's the monologist tonight?  Anybody want to be the monologist?  We're doing a show and we have to have a monologist.  Yes, we need someone to tell a story.  A story we call a monologue.  Hence, we need a monologist. 
     My improv team, who is being shoved from being a practice eff around group into an actually performing troupe, is adopting this monologue opener format.  It serves us well since we have a short performance time- only 10 minutes.  And rather than having a dedicated monologist, any one of us can step forward and take on the role.
     We can get to some wonderful places from just one word.  The word was penguin.  A teammate stepped forward and told a story about a penguin who got lost on its way to Antarctica and ended up in New Zealand.  And we were off.  We spent a great deal of time in a scene in 1963 Germany.  A few of us (me) didn't really understand the history of the time.  We ended on my personal crowning moment with the line "first let's see if the pie is moist, then we'll work on you." 
     We were given the word precipice.  I stepped forward simply to announce it was one of my favorite words but I don't get to use it often enough.  Sometimes I stand on the street and say "I'm on the precipice of this curb." 
     For the word rainbow, Abby stepped forward to tell a story about a wonderful poem she wrote as a 2nd grader and how all of the colors were just too beautiful and as a 7-year-old, she couldn't decide on just one.  By the end of the scene, I was writing acrostics in a card factory that employed 1-year-olds, the division Abby was relegated to for being too stupid to make a poem from the word orange.  Somewhere in the middle was a wonderful tag-out game where David couldn't choose between ten different things.
     He was given the choice of ten cereals and he said "I don't want to choose, I want all of them, mixed together, in one bowl, mix them all together."  Colleges: I don't want to choose, I want to go to all the colleges.  Wives:  I want to be Mormon, I don't want to choose, I want them all.  Caskets:  I don't want to choose, put me in all of them.  Circles of hell:  I don't want any of them. 
     We spent a lot of our rehearsal working on monologues and mining themes from them.  I prefer the monologue opener because 1. it provides more fodder to mine from and reach a theme and 2. it doesn't get the audience so stuck in their heads about the one damn word they said.  I've been to shows when people walk out saying "the word was pumpernickel, and they hardly talked about pumpernickel at all."  But honestly, if you had just watched 30 minutes of people talking about pumpernickel, you kind of would have wanted to scrape your face off, no? 
     This is why themes are important, and why I like having a monologist so much.  You can pull so much from the story, as well as the way the story is being told.  Even if it's just a small tale about a lost penguin.  

Things That Always Make Me Laugh

     There are a few things that will always make me laugh.  If I'm having a dreary day, I just look out the window and think of one of these things, and I start laughing.  The dreariness fades.
     Mary says "Bye Ceilings!"  Every time I think about this, I just crack up.  It was so simple, but so hilarious.  I had found a craigslist ad for an apartment that seemed pretty damn ridiculous.  In it was the typo "hi ceilings."  We made fun of this.  Then it came to the part with a series of questions.  One of them was "Do you make 40x the rent?"  To which Mary just replied "Nope!  Bye Ceilings!"
    I laughed uncontrollably that day.  I had to leave the room.  Now, when I come across an apartment I can't afford, I wave and say "bye ceilings!"

     Wearing Someone Else's Face  What's the ultimate in creepiness?  Wearing someone else's face.  In the sketch class I took a few months ago, this came up a lot.  And every time it did, I cracked up.  We'd be spit balling on how to take the joke to the next level and someone, usually the same girl, would offer up "she could be wearing his face."  Logistically, I'm not sure how it works.  But comically, it gets me every time. 

     Drinking a Gallon of Milk in an Hour  The hilarity of this caught me off guard, actually.  A group of people were hanging out in a bar- a mixture of people who knew each other and people who were just meeting.  A new acquaintance was trying to tell a story of traveling through Ireland; he and his buddy had given themselves the challenge of drinking a gallon of Guinness in a day.  My friend Megan and I looked at each other with a familiar twinkle in our eyes.  "Easy" we chimed.  There are only 8 pints in a gallon.  (This actually took us a bit to figure out, because we had been drinking.)  You could drink a gallon of Guinness during the workday and probably not even be that drunk.  We dismissed his supposed prowess.
      Then Katie chimed in with "Oh, my friends never tried that with Guinness.  They used to try to see if they could drink a gallon of milk in an hour."  I lost it.  I laughed wholeheartedly for a sold three minutes.  She was completely serious.  But it can't be done.  It is physically impossible.  The idea of people trying just gets to me.  I also kind of thing of that episode of Friends when Joey claims he can drink a gallon of milk in  under a minute and ends up dumping it all over himself.
     Katie admitted nobody was ever able to do it, and every time they tried, they would get very ill.  But they kept trying.
     It may have just been the nonchalant way Katie brought it up, but something about trying to drink a gallon of milk in an hour makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Ahh.  Good times.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cover Letters Are Hard

    A dear friend of mine (no really) has been job hunting recently.  It ain't easy.  I've had many conversations about this with several friends, actually.  It's such a grind, and at times, it can seem hopeless.  I blame part of this to the new way we find jobs.  When I was 15 looking for a job, I walked into McDonald's and asked for an application.  I was able to fill it out entirely, which put me at the head of the pack.
     Even a few years ago, I was looking for a part time job for some spending money and to get out of the house.  I was walking through my hometown and went into the movie theater.  There was an old crone standing behind the counter.  "Are you hiring any part time help?" I asked.  She then asked how old I was and what the deal was with my limp- two questions I know an employer is not allowed to ask.  But still, beside the point.  I just walked in and asked, and I got the job.
     Now, as adults, we have to write resumes and CVs and cover letters.  And we have to submit them over the internet.  We don't even get to mail it in, or look at the person we're submitting to.  Really, we don't know where the hell any of this stuff goes. 
     The resume or CV can be tricky, and it seems like the rules are always changing.  There are constantly Yahoo! articles about "What not to put on your resume."  The gist: never lie, but don't tell the truth. Make yourself sound good, but not too good or they'll think you're arrogant. Don't leave breaks in employment, but don't write down times you were unemployed.
     For my friend, the most daunting part has been the cover letter.  And I wholeheartedly agree.  You find a job you think you'd be perfect for.  Your skills line up to the desired qualifications listed.  Perfect.  "All I have to do is write this cover letter" you think to yourself.  And then twenty minutes passes and you're staring at a screen that reads "Dear Hiring Manager," on it.  Ugh.  What can you possibly say?  In the end, you play it safe; you write about your qualifications in a way that was not covered in your resume and you tailor it to the job at hand.  And when you don't get called back, you wonder if you should have played it so safe.
     For example, my friend applied for a job at Groupon.  She wrote these two same cover letters:
Dear Groupon,
     I'm ______ and I'm awesome. As you can see from my resume, I'm capable of putting up with as much bullshit as can possibly be thrown around. Seriously. The Navy? Government Contracting? The Government? It was bullshit city and I was the parade marshal for pride week.
     Also, I have excellent computer skills, such as forwarding emails and assembling power point presentations. I am a firm believer in your company because I too like to hang out with my friends but not have to pay full price for it.
     Given the opportunity, I'm sure I can excel with your company and together we can take it to the next level- global networking. That's not a thing yet, right?
Remember, I'm awesome.
Hearts, _____

Dear Groupon,
I want to work for you. Get me out of this place. Windy City! The Bears! I know a lot of words.

She didn't send either of them, but you have to wonder what response you would get if you did.  
I had applied for a position at TWoP and considered using this:
I can be a bit of a cunt, but it looks like you would appreciate my cuntish, no bullshit kind of humor.
A job opened up at Thomspon-Rueters.  I didn't apply, because I have no idea what they do.  But in the same vein:   
Dear Thompson-Rueters,
I'm a bit of a cunt, but I think my no bullshit attitude are just what you need. Yes, I will take a corner office, thank you.

Professionals recommend always keeping your resume and cover letter up to date, just in case.  My just-in-case cover letter:
Dear Hiring Director,
     I would be awesome at this job.  Seriously.  I only require about 4 hours of sleep a day- the rest of the time I can be at work. 
     I am one of the only people in my current office who can construct a sentence.  I know the definition of a lot of words, and even more importantly, when I don't know the definition, I do not proceed to use them in high-level documents.
     My current boss frequently calls me into his office to help with tasks in Microsoft Word.  Tasks such as deleting a text box that falls outside of the margins and changing the default reading mode.  He doesn't ask anyone else- he specifically seeks me out for these Word emergencies.
     I've done a lot of different things before and all of these jobs make me great at any future job.  I listen really well; I take direction better than a 6-year-old on his (or her) dad's (or mom's) tee-ball team. 
     And also, not that I'm desperate, but I will DO ANYTHING.  Really.  Anything.  I have a very low moral code.  I mean, I won't steal, but there's not much else that's off limits.  Mostly, it's about the job though. 
     I look forward to hearing from you.
Regards, Nancy
 If I were a hiring manager, I would hire whomever it was that sent these to me.  This may be why I am not a hiring manager.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Imperial Bedrooms: A Review.

     I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.  I had just finished Less Than Zero about a month ago.  Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel, of sorts, to Less Than Zero, set 20-some years later.  Which, since Less Than Zero took place in the mid-80s, was about 4-6 years ago.  The exact date may have even been mentioned, but I don't remember.  That wasn't really an important detail. 
     It was clearly the aughts, because there were iPhones and The Fray.  That's enough for me.  Bret Easton Ellis has a certain style that can force you into the story.  His sentences go on and on with this sense of urgency and stream-of-consciousness that make you rip through the pages.  That works, because the characters are pretty coked out of their minds anyway, so it seems as though that's probably how their thought are going along.
     I was with the story until the end.  Then it lost me; the end felt bland to me.  The thing is, I really still don't get why he cared at all about the girl.  There was the torture-sex scene that we can expect in a BEE novel, but frankly, I expected it earlier.  For some reason, the main character was infatuated with this girl, but I saw no reason for it.  Also, the girl was stupid.  And I hate stupid girls. 
     So in the end a whole bunch of people were dead in pretty horrible ways.  How they were all connected seems to be what was holding this story together.  But really, it never mattered.  There were drugs rings and sex rings and everyone was lying to everyone.  Nothing was real, and I suppose, maybe that was the point. 
     I had higher expectations because I actually liked the Clay in Less Than Zero.  He was an asshole, sure, but there was something about him that was a little bit hopeful.  Apparently, the point in Imperial Bedrooms is that one small glimmer of hope can't persist through 20 years of bullshit.  It dies, just like everything else.
     The plot and the characters are more complicated than I'm making them out to be here.  There is a nice little device that Bret Easton Ellis uses to help explain away any sentimentalism we as an audience may have built up about Clay, or the world of Less Than Zero.  Dismissing it only makes me like Imperial Bedrooms less.  Except for the last line:  "I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people."  That sums it up perfectly. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving Notes All Over

     It's a pretty common thing among writers, to leave notes all over in different place.  We long for one place to keep them all, but realistically, this never happens.  I recently started to use Evernote as a way to try to make it happen, however.  I tell everyone about it.  It's a great program, and I only use it to its minimum.  If I used it to its maximum, I'd be amazing.  But the gist of Evernote is that it's a cloud based program that allows you to jot down notes on your computer or on your phone (or possibly others things) and it synchs them, so you always have all your notes. 
     There are times when I have a fleeting idea and it's nice to open the app on my iPhone, write in the sentence, and then come back to it later, at home, in front of my computer.  (It takes less time than finding a pen and opening my journal and then trying to read the horrific handwriting because I was on the bus at the time.)  There are times when I'm searching for ideas; when I just don't know what to write about, and I'll scroll through Evernote, looking for those one or two sentence gems, hoping to spark a fire.
      I did that today, and I found this:
    I'd like to give myself a little credit for titling the note Things you can't say but other than that, I have no idea why I wrote this down.  Also, this was the only thing in the note.  And of course, I have now negated the title by talking about it.  Maybe it was actually just a warning to myself.  Maybe I was keeping a list of things you can't say, that came to mind, and then I closed up the idea factory.  Maybe I assume that's the line I can't cross.  Anything else is fine. 
    Without leaving little notes all over the place, and without Evernote, I would never be able to relive this gem.  I look at it, shake my head, and chuckle.  As disturbing as it is, I'm really glad it's there.  Also, it makes me appreciate all the times when my anus is not a hot mess.  Which is, thankfully, most of the time.
     I also found a note that said "I just experienced some cogitative dissonance there."  The note included the quote marks, so clearly, someone said this to me.  I wrote cracks me up after it.  Boy, it's lucky these things don't get lost. 
     Ok, so they can't all be winners, but still, thanks Evernote!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I survived my first Del Close Marathon

     I wasn't actually concerned about not surviving it.  But still, I survived!  It was such great fun! I had some separation anxiety from my UCB wristband when I had to cut it off this morning.  One of my favorite moments, a moment I really felt proud of, was Sunday night at the Asssscat 3000 show.  I was sitting in the back row of the auditorium with a group of people all from WIT in DC- I was on the end.  At intermission, one of the girls in the middle got my attention so we could start the wave.  Sure, why not?  We decided it would better to try to start a "downward wave" where we started at the back of the auditorium and went to the front.  So I attempted to start it, yelling "1, 2, 3" as loudly as I could and standing up in wave fashion.  We repeated it several times, hoping people would catch on.
     Then we chanted "downward wave, downward wave" a few times and started it again.  It didn't completely catch on, but enough people got the idea and it did make it down to the front.  The crew people at the front of the auditorium even finished it off.  It was lovely.
     In the middle of the second half of the show, Matt Bessar asked what the chant was during intermission.  We yelled it out.  "Wait, what?"  We said it again.  "What's a downward wave?"  That was my cue.  "1, 2, 3 ... woooo" and we did the most half-assed downward wave you've seen.  It was glorious.  He hung his head a bit.  "Wow.  That was, uh, I've never seen that before."  He turned to the rest of the Asssscat cast and they confirmed that they also had never seen that before.  Still, he seemed into it.
     It was like we got a giant high-five in the middle of the Asssscat 3000 show.  It was awesome.  My mother would be proud.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Del Close Marathon isn't about running

     I'm heading up to NYC this weekend for the Del Close Marathon.  It's my first year and I'm really excited to be going.  I won't be participating, but experiencing it is enough for me, this time around.  Someone described it as the Bonnaroo for improv.  Bonnaroo!  We all know how much fun Bonnaroo was.  And the DCM is all indoors.  And it doesn't involve sleeping on the ground. 
      A few groups from DC I know will be there, and at least one group I know from Boston will be there, and I'm familiar with one or two groups from NY.  I've become an improv junkie and I'm ok with that. 
     The use the term marathon the same way I use the term marathon, not in the way people who run 26.2 miles use the term marathon.  It's just a lot of improv, nonstop.  One show after another after another.  There's more than you could possibly ever see.  Even if you wanted to, you couldn't see it all because it's spread out over three (four including the stage you pay extra for) theaters. And now-a-days, there's no good reason to stay up for 48 hours straight.  It won't all be good, but that's part of the joy. 
     People who are in the improv community are very familiar with the Del Close Marathon.  People who are not in it have never ever heard of it.  It's a pretty sharp dividing line.  A couple friends were taken aback when I just said "I'm going to the Del Close Marathon."  "Why?" then would start to ask as I said "it's an improv marathon."  "Oh, that makes more sense.  I couldn't figure out why you would run a marathon."  They're right.  I wouldn't.  Watch something for hours and hours on end?  Yes, that I'll do. 
     I packed my suitcase (backpack), I printed my bus ticket, and I'm counting down the minutes until my bus leaves.  At the urging of a few friends (esp Mary), I rented a hotel room.  Mary was actually pretty insistent; I debated on how she'd feel about me sharing this conversation, but it's too good not to share:
 me: should i try to just stay up all night friday to save $200?
 Mary: no
  you'll end up getting murdered in washington square park
 me: honestly, i expected you to say yes
 Mary: because that's where they'll drag you
 me: i won't get murdered
 i'd probably just fall asleep in the theater
 Mary: And then a murderer will walk in, clock you over the head, carry you to WSP, and murder you.
  I've seen it a hundred times.
me: Wow. that's a lot of work for one little murder
  perhaps he'd rape me first...or after
 Mary: well, WSP is a no rape zone so it'd have to be before.
 me: oh good.
  no, wait
  i'd prefer after, if i could choose
 Mary: right, well you can't.
  so you should get a hotel

     It made me laugh a lot harder than it should have.  Also, as a side note, when I searched for the conversation, I searched for "murdered" and 17 conversations came up.  Sure, of course.  Why wouldn't there be 17 conversations where I talk about being murdered.  I feel like I'm giving away industry secrets here!  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Synecdoche, New York: A Quasi-Review

     Synecdoche, New York is written by Charlie Kaufman.  Mary said I would love it or I would hate it.  I wanted to be indifferent to it, but since love and hate are my only two options, I choose love.  It is an incredibly put-together movie.  I mean that to say that I find how this movie was put together to be incredible.
     I admit I had to look up the definition of the word synecdoche.  But knowing what that word meant really helped me understand the movie and what was going on and the motivation behind everything.  There are plenty of pieces that are non-linear, as we can expect from any Charlie Kaufman film.  It's funny and heart-breaking, at the exact same time.
     I watched the trailer, and it was compelled to watch the movie again.  I already mailed it back though, and it's over 2 hours, so I probably won't.  But I really did like it in that way one loves Charlie Kaufman movies.  They tend to feel bigger than everything else.  I suppose that's why it was called "A Miracle Movie." 

P.S. So you don't have to go searching on your own:

Synecdoche (play /sɪˈnɛkdəkiː/; from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech[1] in which a term is used in one of the following ways:

Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (pars pro toto), or
A thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it (totum pro parte), or
A specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, or
A general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class, or
A material is used to refer to an object composed of that material, or
A container is used to refer to its contents.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When I Wear White: A List.

     I don't think a lot about what I'm going to wear.  I have just a few pairs of pants and a few blouses, and most of them match so if I had to, I could get dressed in the dark and it wouldn't be terrible.  The most thinking I do about my clothing is when plotting out the day and if I'm going to need to change for some reason.  I would often change between work and improv, just to be more comfortable on 105 degree days.  What I don't think about is what I'm eating that day and if it'll match what I wear. 
     A friend of mine actually has a spaghetti shirt.  It's red and it's for when she eats spaghetti.  Apparently I need a chili shirt, and I need to wear it every day.  A coffee shirt would also come in handy.
     Inexplicable things happen to me when I wear my white shirt(s).
  • I flip my spoon and spray chili all over
  • I drop my mascara applicator
  • I wear a fuzzy black sweater for 5 minutes when I'm cold
  • I stop short infront of someone carrying coffee
  • I drool a little bit while eating chocolate
By inexplicable things happen to me, I mean that I cause disastrous things to happen to my white shirts. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Forgiving Audience

     Tonight is my improv showcase.  At the end of each semester, WIT puts on a student showcase where each class performs a set ranging from 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the class.  This semester I took two classes- level 1A again, and level 2: character.  This means I get to be in the showcase for  27 minutes.
     I've been debating on changing between sets.  About 2 seconds after raising the question, I realize it's preposterous.  Why would I change?  So people don't recognize me?  I would love it if people recognized me.  Unless I do something terrible in the first set and need to wear a bag over my head for the second.  However, changing my shirt is not going to create enough doubt that it was me.  If anything it'll just make people think "Oh, the inappropriate girl changed her shirt, hoping we wouldn't recognize her and call her names.  Who does she think she is, Madonna?"  Plus, in my experience, the audience for the showcase is incredibly forgiving.
     It's a group of friends and family who you've sheepishly asked to attend.  They paid $0 to get in.  They are expecting nothing.  If you can manage to walk on the stage and make sounds with your mouth, they'll be thrilled.  Anything above that is completely amazing to them.  They laugh at things that sometimes make you think "that's what you're laughing at?"  And then some of the pressure goes away.
     Last semester I started a scene reading a newspaper.  A fellow player came out and commented on the news, and in about three lines I had insulted her and all people who don't finish high school.  I was mildly appalled at myself, but the audience was up for it.  They are very forgiving.
     They were also very forgiving during a scene about an abusive husband.  I remember wiping the scene perhaps prematurely after the line "this is why we shouldn't teach women to read."  I felt like I may be blatantly admitting I didn't want to do a scene like that and perhaps I was breaking some improv rules by not letting it progress.  On the other hand, the edit was warranted, and got a bigger laugh than the line did.  The audience was right there with me.
     The showcase is a great way to cut your teeth performing.  It's a safe place.  The audience knows you or at least knows someone who knows you.  They're already on board with the concept that you just learned this stuff and they're there to be encouraging.  You learn how performing like that can be such a communal experience.  They'll laugh at the face you didn't know you were making, and they don't know your go-to character is a bad Sling Blade impression; they'll think it's genius.
     I'm cool calm and collected now, and I'll pretend to be that way for the entire night, but about 10 minutes before we go on, I'll have butterflies.  It always happens, with everything.  Every bit of public speaking, presentation, first day, etc.  Any moment when you get butterflies in your stomach, I get them.  But I choose to push through them.  Because the end result is always better.  People often worry about failing at these things, but really, the only way to fail is to do nothing.  If you just make any sounds or do anything, someone there will support it.  And the audience will love it, because they're really forgiving. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Death Cab for Cutie in Concert: A Review.

     Listening to The Sound of Settling live is anything but settling.  Death Cab for Cutie has been my favorite band for years, and I was elated to be able to catch them as they came through the District area in support of their new album Codes and Keys.  
     Frightened Rabbit opened the show, and it was great.  I just recently came into Frightened Rabbit, a Scottish band, from Scotland, replete with sexy brogue.  They play wonderful music, and I inebriatedly yelled out that I would have their babies.  We were on the lawn, so they didn't hear me.  I'm pretty sure that was the only thing standing in our way.
     Death Cab wowed the crowd.  They have such a wonderful catalog and when played live, the music gets in your soul.  It was as though the drums and bass traveled through the ground and into my body.  I could feel it.  It was amazing. When I was a kid my dad used to dismiss the idea of concerts saying if he wanted to hear the music, he would just put on the album. He didn't get it.  It's not the same.  There's something transplendent about singing the "bad-da-ba-da-ba-ba"s of Soul Meets Body with 20,000 other people.
     It was unbelievably hot, and Ben Gibbard was feeling it.  He declared it had officially gone from hot to "balls hot."  Indeed, it had.  Still, it was totally worth it. The air was moist, both with humidity and the awesome sweat of a great rock&roll show.


For a little taste:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ideas That Didn't Pan Out: A List.

     I don't always have a full well of ideas in which to choose from to make my blog topic.  Often, as I've mentioned before, I just ask Mary to yell things out.  She does, and then I end up talking about things that might seem disconnected if you didn't know that was happening.  Things like awesome things that are awesome, coffee, bagels, and breakfast in general, pulp or no pulp, onions, the morning, forty dollars, and fuel, and the email she received yesterday.
     I also sometimes try to come up with my own ideas, but these don't always pan out.  Some are too personal, some too damn depressing, some too underdeveloped, and some there just isn't enough to say about.  Things like:

  • Reasons [I think] I'm a Bad Person: A list
  • How the President visiting the Navy Yard affects me (it doesn't)
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: A Review
  • Funny things that happened at dinner last night
  • Why I can't sleep
  • Why, once I'm asleep, I can't wake up
  • My inconclusive feelings about Frightened Rabbit
  • Low self-esteem and self-preservation
  • A Happy Birthday tribute to Mary
  • What really keeps me up at night
  • My secret plans for the future
  • How I keep screwing up
  • What I mean when I say "The one time I ..."
  • My list of sketch ideas, including "two cats walk into a bar," suggested by Mary
  • How maybe I shouldn't rely so much on Mary's suggestions
  • How I'm really glad Mary makes suggestions when I ask her to
  • The douchehats who insulted the book I'm reading
  • My improv team, "We met in 1B."

A few of those I came up with while writing the list and may not have been actual contenders for blog topics.  Oliver is a decently unfocused place, and some would say that is analogous to its author.  To those I say "Hrumph.  Go fuck yourself and leave me the hell alone."  Oliver's focus is whatever is in my view-field at that moment.  It's about what I have to say.  Often, it's about what I have to say about a topic Mary suggests.  This might just be as much hers as it is mine.  Because clearly onions and orange juice are more fruitful topics than anything in that damn list. 

Also:  Happy Birthday Mary.  Sorry I'm missing your movie fest; they all die in the end. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mary Got an Email Today

     My dear friend Mary received an email today from someone she doesn't yet know, but will probably develop a deep personal connection with.  New person, I'll name her Amelia, is a graduate student at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), which is our Alma Mater.  Amelia is in the Urban Planning Department within the School of Natural Resources and Environment.  She contacted Mary via an alumni newsletter (?) because Mary is fantastic.  Amelia wants to be a screenwriter, and has questions.
     Our first response was, of course, "Oh, well naturally she wants to be a screenwriter.  She has a background in Urban Planning."  We had a good laugh.  It's funny for a few reasons.  First of all, there's a pretty decent-sized cliche about writing a screenplay.  A lot of people try to do it.  And a lot of people fail at it.  On the surface, it can kind of look like it's easy to do, which is why so many people try and fail, because it's not easy.
     Another reason this is funny is because there isn't an immediate link between Urban Planning and screenwriting.  Mary has wanted to be a screenwriter forever, and that's what she's gone to school for, which is why Amelia contacted her to begin with.  Mary knows the craft.  You'd think Amelia wants to be an Urban Planner since that's what her major is.  In a very brief interaction, we have determined she's studying Urban Planning as a natural segue into screenwriting.
     That's probably not what happened.  I am often confronted with the same tone and the "Oh, naturally" when I talk about my background.  I have a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering, was an Officer in the Navy for 5 years with a background in Nuclear Engineering, and then I went to film school.  Naturally.  And in film school I majored in production, but I would still really like to be a writer.  I wonder about it sometimes, too, because sometimes people don't take my writing seriously because I don't have formal training in it.  Except I actually do, because no matter how much English majors like to put down Engineers, we don't actually hand in reports drawn in crayon with Xs all over them.  We use words and sentences and paragraphs, just like real people.
     I understand the naturally comment, and I've made it myself.  I've made it myself about myself.  The thing is, people don't have to be just one thing.  Sometimes doing one thing, be it rocket scientry or urban planning, can make you want to do another thing, like write scripts and make movies.  And sometimes it takes a few years to really figure that out.  And sometimes you're not as naturally gifted at writing so you have to ask for advice from people who are.  Like Mary.  Which is why Mary gets emails from potential screenwriting-urban-planners.  Amelia has a story to tell, naturally.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm Late, I'm Late

     I procrastinated just a little too much.  When the time was right to write a clever little post, the power went out.  Pretty inexplicably actually.  Not all the power was.  Just some of it.  Plus, when the sun is up, it's harder to remember the power is out because we still have lights.  And then you  think that to make some time pass while staring at a blank screen, you'll cook something or get something from the fridge.  Oh.  No.  You can't do those things.  You can't even make coffee, which seems simple.  But it turns out we need power to do a whole bunch of things. 
     This reminds me of a story from a few years ago when I was working at a nuclear power plant.  I had gone out for drinks with my crew and they were trying to pick up girls.  One of them got into an elaborate discussion about the warrants of nuclear power.  He listed the pros and indeed even some of the cons, and discussed the pros and cons of other types of power generation.  From a few bar stools away, his argument seemed pretty sound.  She should have at least not been completely against nuclear power at that point.  But then she said something that gave us all pause:  "Why don't we just use electricity?"
     Yes, dumb girl, why indeed, don't we just use electricity?  My friend didn't keep talking to her, he has his standards.  We all walked away, shaking our heads, leaving her to be roofied by a guy without such standards.  She was completely serious, and this disquieted us.  Why not just use electricity?  Where to begin?
     Anyway, eventually the power came back up, and I was forced to stare at the blank screen for quite a while.  The blinking cursor is intimidating.  I was already late for my self-imposed deadline.  I was getting later.  Which means I needed a really good excuse for being late.  Which means I probably needed a fantastic post, to really knock your socks off, to make your wait worth while.  So that when you finished reading it, you were so satisfied, you could forgive the lateness.  Instead, however, I just kept thinking about the dumb girl at the bar and how she's probably a doctor by now.  Or a doctor's mistress.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Did It All

     A review of my weekend: pretty damn satisfying, even the parts that were boring.  I managed to get in all the things I wanted to do, from the movie marathon I was talking about on Friday, to working on those pesky ambitions.  I even did some laundry. 
     I skipped the gym on Friday, because seriously, I was never really about to go to the gym.  Instead,  I went to see Winnie the Pooh.  It was almost ruined by a group of teenagers who thought they were in their living room.  Luckily, the adorableness of it was still able to shine through.  It's just an overwhelmingly cute, simple, and sweet story.  I was especially pleased to see Eeyore be as depressed as I knew him to be when I was a child.  In recent years, there were talks of making him a little less sad, less gloomy, and possibly writing the character out all together.  This would be no good.  Eeyore is essential, and his gloominess adds something to the Hundred Acre Woods that would otherwise be lost if he were replaced with a wise cracking marsupial.  He's funnier when he's depressed.  "We're all going to die."  So true, Eeyore.  And I really liked the moment when <<SPOILER ALERT>> they find his tail.  They ask him if he's happy; he says "No.  But this is a nice tail."  It's a good flick.  I recommend it. 
     After Winnie the Pooh, I went home, did some laundry, made popcorn for dinner, and watched some TV on DVD.  I'm in the middle of Season 3 of Mad About You.  Yes, I did watch it when it originally aired.  But it's still good.  One of my favorite pieces of dialogue from this season:
     Paul: You know what I think?
     Jamie: No.
     Paul: No you don't know, or no you don't care?
     Jamie: Just, what?
For some reason, that just cracks me up.  I remember reading about the show when it was first on in the 90s.  Paul Reiser, who created it, kept saying it was about the more behind the scenes aspects of a married couple than we had seen before.  I didn't really understand that at the time, but now I do.  And I think it's accurate.  It's still a funny show.
     Then, Childrens' Hospital.  Each episode is only about 15 minutes long; it originally aired as a web series.  Clearly, Rob Corrdry has a lot of friends, because everyone was in this.  It's hilarious and absurd.  It's hilarious because it's absurd.  Knowing medical show cliches definitely helps in really understanding the humor.  It was shot in the same hospital Scrubs was shot in, which was mildly distracting for me, but in the end I felt vindicated when they finally yelled "the elevators haven't been working since they shot Scrubs here."  Also, if you're genuinely afraid of clowns and people in clown makeup, you probably shouldn't watch.   
     I finished watching Childrens' Hospital Saturday morning.  Then I made a bacon omelet, which was awesome, and headed off to the multiplex for a movie marathon.  The Metro screwed me, as it is wont to do, and I missed the beginning of Crazy Stupid Love.  I was irritated, but I was able to fill in the pieces.  I actually really enjoyed the film.  I was actually glad I watched it alone, because then I didn't have to explain to anybody why I was crying like a big dumb baby.  I was also laughing and then also saying "fuuuccccckkkk" every time Ryan Gosling was on the screen, just like everyone else in the theater. 
     Then it was on to Friends with Benefits, another movie I was going to have to see alone because nobody else would see it with me.  I understand why, but I was still intrigued.  And I like to watch things that claim to be comedies.  I laughed.  I even cried some more.  (That may just be me, and not necessarily indicative of the movie.)  Shut up, it's my weekend and I can do what I want.
      Which leads me to my next abomination: The Smurfs.  I have no excuse for this.  It was morbid curiosity.  I expected it to be terrible, and it was.  I should have watched Winnie the Pooh again. 
     Once home, I watched an episode of Louie and Melissa & Joey.  I drifted off to The Mountain Goats on Spotify.  I slept right through my grocery store wake-up time, but I didn't mind at all.  I turned on Hulu and watched the end of season 1 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  After the "Do you need a break?  You've been watching for three hours" warning popped up, I packed up my things and went to Starbucks for several hours.
     My mother called while I was there and I answered it.  I talked to her for a while; I consider that my good deed for the day.  Also, every once in a while, she surprises me.  I guess in the way family can do sometimes.  Just when you think it's all a lost cause, they come back and surprise you.
     I actually wrote for several hours, working on those pesky ambitions I was talking about before.  I also overheard this:
 "Do you ever watch 'How I Met Your Mother'?"
 "Oh my god! I *literally* identify with Robin!" 
What?  I had to write it down.  That's ridiculous.
     After three hours at Starbucks and half an outline, I moseyed over to Krame books.  I picked up three new books (Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, The Wild Things, and Imperial Bedrooms), then headed home.  I plowed through the first 100 pages of The Wild Things, the novelization of the film Where the Wild Things Are, by Dave Eggers.  Then I finished off the night with a little more Mary Tyler Moore, where a burning question was finally answered: the theme song does change after season one.  She doesn't turn the world on with her smile until season two.  And in season one, she "might just make it, after all."  In season two (and presumably after) she's "gonna make it, after all."  That sounds much more hopeful.
     Then I had that dream where I'm standing on a grave made of brick, trying to identify the corpses in the open graves surrounding me, hoping they don't reanimate.  Ah, Monday morning.