Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tonight on the Daily Show, John Stewart got to play out his grad school fantasy (I assume, because, had I went to grad school, it would have been mine) by getting to actually voice his honest opinion about Ayn Rand to an audience of millions. I don't know, maybe you didn't have the same kind of English teacher as me. But damn it if I didn't loathe Rand to the core before I could even grasp the kind of conservative masturbation I was reading.
That has nothing to do with what I'm going to talk about here. But then again, neither does the fact that I'm going to pretend that the reason the They Might Be Giants show sold out, in Cleveland of all places, is because they wrote that damn theme song for the Big Bang Theory. You don't know, it could be true.
I recently went to the bookstore. I try not to go into bookstores, because as soon as I set foot in one, it is a given I will buy something. I will be dead broke, living on blue box mac and cheese, but I will buy something. Some used clearance rack book about the Haitian Invasion. A hard copy of a book I already own. Dumb shit like that. Various people I have slept with have accused me of spending my money on stupid shit, like sweaters, and alcohol. They don't understand that I splurge on these stupid things to avoid the bankruptcy I would fall into if I ever gave in to my real addiction.
So anyway, I went into the bookstore. I bought a collection of Tom Wolfe essays about the year 2000. It's pretty fucking awesome. I forget exactly how much I love Wolfe until I read one paragraph by him, and I'm fucking hooked again. I know all the reasons he's bad for me, but reading him is like a pornographic high. I'm sure someday I will look back on him like I used to feel about Tom Robbins, or Henry Miller. But right now, I'm in the throes of a Tom Wolfe growth spurt.
It's not surprising given how many times I read Bonfire of the Vanities as a child. It sat around on the hallway bookshelf always. I honestly think I read that book at least 12 times before I was 15. That can't be healthy.
I also bought some shit about the Haitian invasion. And some other political shit about Nixon. I love reading about 1960-70s politics. I blame my father for this, as well as the Bonfires of the Vanities affliction. Though my mother was the one who sang along to Snow White, so really, blame is relative.
Lately I've been making my List of Authors I Should Have Been Alive to Be Madly Viciously In Love With. So far, the list stands as such:
- Roald Dahl
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Margaret Atwood (yes, I know, still alive. But at this point, might as well be in an another dimension. Same as the next guy)
- Tom Wolfe
- Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail makes up for that stupid f&l Johnny Depp shit.
- John Irving, the Great Novelist
I make this list not in an effort to impress upon you my coolness (that's just an obvious side effect), but so when I'm twenty years in the future, ie 50 motherfucker, I can randomly run across this post and think to myself "god, I remember when I used to give myself tetanus all the time by wandering around in dirty places, and was also a horrible pretentious twat."
What is the one thread that brings all these people together in my mind right now? How am I living my life, when these are the people I look up to? I wish there was a therapist who specialized in analyzing one's reading habits. I need to go to that person, I need my own version of Tarot cards, I feel settled and lost at the same time.
Here is the thing that happens when you watch too much America's Top Model. You start to really understand what is considered beautiful. You see these awkward dumb girls, who look freaky and stretched and scooped out, but then get in front of the camera and transform into these creatures of light and lips and ice. You start to truly understand what the camera is looking for. It widens our perception of beauty just enough to let the weird girls in, to make us all amateur model scouts. But it does not make us feel better about ourselves. If anything, it gives even skinny girls something to worry about, maybe they don't know how to catch the light? Maybe they wear too many accessories? I know deep down what a very cute troll I am, but troll I am. Heavy, slow, overly reliant upon the comma. I don't feel badly about girls who are more beautiful than me. I understand why they are. It's like when you adopt a very petite cat. You can't get over the hollows between the bones.
Spain is a country. It should not be the name of your stupid band.
We went up the stairs, past rows of hospital rooms, one upon the other, all the same. We made our way to the level beneath the roof. We wandered through the rooms where man used to handle deadly small creatures that caused sickness and ugliness and sadness. The desks where they used to work, the small garret offices, were overturned and empty. Only silent warning signs, to warn delivery men from a decade ago, left on doors and hallway walls and elevator shafts. We made our way through the machinery of the place, through the giant pipes and shafts and searched the staircase to lead us to the steeple. When we got there, only Jeremiah and Allison had the guts to climb it. To almost the top, but not on the wooden ladder.
We found our way to the swamp. And nestled in a small dark corner, a concrete room with only one small air vent providing a glow of natural light. Charity found it. It was the room you see in cop shows, or shows where they catch mass murderers. I was there with three other people, with an open door, and I didn't even go in it, because it felt like to go into it would be to literally surrender my freedom. So I looked at the swamp, and I remembered the time my little sister fell in the duck pond at the Metroparks, and she had to be pulled from the man-made lake.
When you find yourself in the air vents and heating shafts and infrastructure, you start to see that you are actually in the bowels of an old and decaying beast. You are exploring it's heart and lungs, staring through it's clouded corneas. This is all flesh.
I wish everything around me could be this color blue. Or the color green of ferns growing out of carpet. I wish I knew that in the future, someone will be exploring the building I worked in, wondering about the locked doors, and shouldering their flashlights while they paged through manuals about insurance law. Hospitals are more about birth than death to me, I feel like they are communities celebrating the best of what community has to offer. So it makes sense the most pleasant parts of this place were where the plants were growing again.
I wonder about my photographic aesthetic. I love pictures to be complicated, full of little things. Maybe I should rephrase that, maybe it's actually my aesthetic in total. I try not to wear jewelry because I feel like it adds more confusion to my body, which is confusing enough as it is. But I love heavy eye makeup. In my head there is a balance between too complicated and simple enough. But what if my idea of this aesthetic doesn't translate to anyone else? What if I'm truly crazy, and no one on earth sees the world I do? I used to embrace the idea of everyone else's translation, but now I'm just scared that I'm the only one in mine. What's the point of writing about it, if no one else really sees it that way? Is it in order to find those people? And then, if I get all celebratory about this perceived individualism, and then it turns out that I'm completely within the normal range of vision? And I'm just a stuck up girl who tried to turn her gray little Cleveland life into something special. It could go either way here folks.
St. Luke is the patron saint for people who do things with their hands, like surgeons, sculptors, musicians. Writers aren't considered hand people. They are supposed to be thought people. But hands are much more integral to the experience, honest.
Either way, one thing will never change. I will never stop hating basements. I didn't even know this was a dead end, until I took a picture with a flash.
This post brought to you by the letters C-H-A-M-P-A-G-N-E
more photos here.