Monday, March 26, 2012

Technical Difficulties

I have not left the country.
Or run away with some traveling salesman I met through craigslist and then fell in love with at the Red Roof Inn off 77.
I'm not buried in my bedcovers depressed and unmoving, composing a tome about attachment issues.
Though that may have happened at one brief moment.
However, my laptop is broken still, all week. So I am about to eat ice cream for lunch, watch my DVRed Mad Men, and play with my new pet decoy crow Chat Andalusia. Hopefully I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


My thoughts today about whether I should try going vegetarian for a little bit or not:

I have to go to the grocery store and this time I have to figure out what I'm getting before I go.
Meat is expensive.
My gym membership came out today, leaving my budget for the next week 40 dollars less than I thought, which is going to suck.
Obviously I should just not go out for the next week and I should go to the gym every night anyway, except for the show Tuesday which is already paid for.
So I just won't drink. I liked it when I wasn't drinking in January, why did I stop that? Oh yeah, cause I started seeing boys again.
Being healthy and being single is totally impossible. Unless I start running marathons.
Fuck marathons, seriously.
I need to get my bike fixed.
Bike boys are so annoyingly into not doing things that aren't biking.
I also liked not eating bread. 
Maybe I'll just buy a bunch of spinach and eat only that for the next week. I wonder if I could actually do that. Raw spinach.
It's so nice out. I bet since it never froze over, the lake will get warm really quickly.
(quick zone out, thinking about being at the lake, with the warm sand and the cold water and the far away horizon and the awesome skyline and sunlight oh god hurry the fuck up)
There was that thing someone put on facebook about people who eat lots of red meat dying 18% faster than other people. I think, I didn't actually read it, just the byline.
Shit, I get so grumpy without meat though.
I mean actually, I get grumpy without alcohol or other ways to get fucked up.
Wait, that's not really true. I get grumpy without sugar.
 I just get less creative without getting fucked up. 
I fucking hate Kerouac. This is his fault. That movie looks awful. None of them look assholish enough. Kristen Stewart is the worst. Why does Carey like her? She looks like a puritan, all tight lipped. I refuse to believe there is any moisture in her at all, let alone sex moisture.
Giving up sugar is the worst, maybe I could just get a bunch of pineapple and spinach, that's sugar.
You know, cows and things like that only eat plants, but they get all fat and slow. So why do we think herbivores are so healthy?
No, I mean, really they get fat cause of all the corn. 
And we don't eat a lot of predators. Predators eat only meat and we don't eat predators, we are predators and therefore we eat herbivores. If eating a lot of meat was good for you, we would eat more predators.
Herbivores are so slow and stupid though, they're not smart. If I act like a herbivore, maybe it will make me slow and stupid too. Maybe my meat oriented predator body chemistry will lose it's edge. 
Ugh, maybe it will make me nice.
Right, cause I'm so edgy now. 
Fucking corn is the root of all evil. Discovering the Western Hemisphere was just bad for everyone all around wasn't it?
Okay, so if I'm going to try this all again, I should try to quit smoking again right?
Seriously, quitting drinking and bread and eating nothing but spinach and pineapple totally appeals to me, until you tell me to quit smoking. 
Nina hates this Spoon song.
I can't believe it's still light out.
Being a predator is hard. 
Also chicken and tuna are so gross. 
Seeing those worms in that swordfish totally turned me off eating anything from the ocean. 
And birds are like rape monsters. Rape monsters who stay warm in their own shit.
No wonder we are predators,  fish and birds and cows and deer are so stupid and filthy.
At least predators know how to clean themselves.
I wonder if I could go vegan, since all this stuff disgusts me anyway. It's like, I'm thinking about cheese and cheese is totally gross, when I think about, only I just never do. Also I know this gross out will go away. I wish my body would just decide for real what grosses it out and stick with it. Like, right now, anything I could put in my mouth right now sounds like the worst thing ever. I wish I could freeze this moment right here, and just starve away.
Putting stuff in your body is gross. 
I don't want to be a herbivore or a predator, I want to be a rock, can't I just crystallize myself?
The ultimate cheap diet - crystallization.
Maybe the ultimate evolution of the predator superiority complex is veganism, because those filthy stupid beasts aren't worthy enough to be ingested by us. 
I bet you could totally sell veganism as a lifestyle/religion that way. Instead of this love bullshit. 
I mean, we already love predators more inherently, that's why we prefer cats and dogs and babies as pets.
Look how quickly people stopped caring about keeping horses around once we didn't need them anymore.
And if we loved cows so much, we would all keep one right? 
Pigs are different though, pigs are just opportunists, they'll eat meat. 
Maybe that's why pork has always been so unsettling.
I seriously can't believe they haven't invented a pill to fix all this yet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Details Seem to be the Thing

The things I do when you're not looking:

I will never understand why people read blogs where the author is just listing off what they did that day, item by item, with the exception of national geographic explorers or astronauts or like porn stars daylighting as nannies. But all the most popular ones are like that, day by day, so who am I to argue? Maybe that's the soul of blogs, and I'm just in the wrong medium. Maybe other people's lives are so boring, they get off on knowing that other people actually left the house? Like, when I'm broke and eating cheap discount grocery store food for the week, so I read food blogs about fancy meals? And maybe you would all like me more if you knew what I did when I wasn't posting vague and inarticulate philosophical ramblings?

So this Saturday, my friend Laura threw her annual Robert Burns dinner. He's a Scottish poet, look it up. She had twenty people to this one, which is a fairly awful undertaking for a dinner party, so kudos to her. I won't even have one person in my cave, let alone twenty. She even made it a sit down dinner, and just scrounged together every table and chair she could find. There were pitchers of water on the table, everyone passed the bread, it was pretty well put together. There was a bagpiper! in full kilt garb! and he recited us Yeats and Burns poems from memory, and played while she was cutting the haggis and the shortbread. We were all like "where did she find this guy?" and then Jimmy figured out he must be the physical manifestation of St. Andrew, which made total sense. Laura is calling down demi-gods for her dinners now. She made her cheese turnip bacon soup, and once again I could hardly finish my haggis because I ate too much soup because I love that soup so freaking much. The actual real Andrew who is not a saint (hardly, though he's working on it), brought this lovely older Australian woman who is staying in his second bedroom which he rents out as a bed and breakfast to overseas guests. She was from Perth, and we talked about how Perth was like Cleveland basically, only our potholes were the worst most awful things in the entire country. She showed me pictures of her pretty daughters, and her dead husband, who had a very nice face.

I left Laura's and went to Julie's St. Patrick's Day party. I stopped on the way to get cigarettes, and this guy at the gas station asked me if his clothes looked okay. He was a very cute black guy, and he was wearing a tie under a sweater, which isn't my thing really, but he was supposed to hang out with the Elders that night, so I was reassuring. I wish guys didn't wear earrings. Frankly, I wish no one wore earrings. Piercings are so not my thing.

At the St. Patricks Day party I got pretty drunk, and talked to lots of nice people who totally have all their shit together. A lawyer lectured me about how I shouldn't get into school debt AT ALL, and I reminded her that 2 years of state school debt is a lot different than 3 years of lawyer school debt, which is true. Julie was hitting on some guy in the kitchen, and I somehow pushed my way into that conversation and sounded like a snobby asshole when I declared I couldn't go to any of the bars right by my house cause they were full of people who "weren't my type" which is to say horrible hipster artsy people are my type, not firemen and cops and their young wives, which is true but still really snobby of me. Austin and I went to Bogtrotters afterwards to get sandwiches, and a very pretty Indian girl kept trying to ask me if I was dressed up for St. Practice Day, but couldn't say it with her accent. I got home and was so tired I couldn't even eat the sandwich, so it's still in my fridge and I plan on writing a Yelp review about the place later once I see how it's sandwiches hold up to being 2 day old leftovers, cause frankly I think that's the honest way to review a place that sells sandwiches till 3am on Saturdays. If I'm ever going to use this Yelp thing, it's going to be for very specific occasions like this. Or when you're in downtown Willoughby hungover as fuck on a Sunday after 1pm and can't find brunch anywhere, and end up eating pizza in the only open bar, but the pizza's pretty awesome even though Willoughby is not. Those kind of reviews.

Sunday I went with a friend shooting. It was my second time shooting, and I got 6 bullseyes, which I'm pretty proud of. Shooting is an expensive habit though, one which I can't afford to take up. But I wish I could, cause I think I could be pretty f-in good at it. Maybe I should start going to those cop bars, and get a cop boyfriend who will take me shooting all the time. Somehow I don't feel like that would jibe with the rest of my lifestyle though. Later I got sick, and he had to pull over on the side of the highway to let me throw up cheap beer, which is only the second time that's ever happened to me. I think it's more embarrassing that it was still daylight out when this happened. Mom is going to hate this part of the post. But Mom, I swear I wasn't throwing up cause of drinking. It was a migraine, promise. I hardly ever never throw up cause of drinking. Maybe that's a worse statement.

Monday, well, I covered that in the last post.
And now here we are.
It's beautiful outside, like really and truly Spring. This morning I went to get into my car to get some coffee, and I was wearing a summer dress and sandals and everything smelled good and sunny. I got into the car, and thought "what's this bag I left here on the seat?" and oh, it was Fox's ashes. So that was a weird moment. I swear, this dog and I are having an adventure.

Edit: this WEIRD reaction has happened since I posted this yesterday. I received texts from several people apologizing for things they thought I was calling out in this post? And one now deleted (not by me, swear) comment from a blogger who shall remain nameless, about how possibly people didn't want to read 3,000 words in a post either. Yet I didn't really think this was a negative post. Though this blogger was sort of joking poking, and fair point to them anyway, cause it's true, most people don't want to read 3,000 word posts. That's why I'm not mega popular, only sort of niche popular. There's also the strong possibility I'm just not that good at writing. I both accept and encourage this attitude. But text people? Calm down. When I say lecturing, I mean with love. And when I say I'm snobby, it's because I'm snobby.

We're just going to go ahead and make this post even longer. Cause last night I was thinking about this on my drive home, that people who meet me in person tend to write me off as sweet and nice. And I strive to be these things, because I think nice and sweet is better than mean and bitchy. But I also try to say what I think, assuming people are like me and don't care enough to be offended by truthful observation. Cause it's just my own thoughts, and the weight they hold in the world is minimal at best, and I assume you are smart and have therefore already criticized yourself more harshly than I ever could. I make a lot of assumptions.

Tangent: My family, we have this genetic inclination to want to make people like us, we are emotional negotiators and pleasers and entertainers. Very much we want people to love us, but also to love them back. We just want to love everything. However, the thing you don't want to do is cross us. Cause, and now I'm just speaking for myself, if I love you and you hurt me badly? There is no middle ground, I go straight for blood and kneecaps. I will find the thing I know will hurt you most and I'll use it. I don't fight fair or reasonably, there is no judgement of appropriate reaction. I will do my best to wound you as quickly and lethally as I can. In this respect, I probably would have made a good military commander. Luckily only 3 or 4 people have ever experienced this, because it only comes out with the worst kind of hurt, the kind where I really actually all the way no boundaries love you. This is the part of my personality that scares me most, and I wish I understood it better, this ability to thoroughly mutilate a thing I once loved if I feel it's been taken away. It's so powerful, if I could harness it, if I managed to reduce it to smaller easier doses in my regular life, my writing could be a lot better, sharper, and maybe in person I would be sharper too.

But then again, I think I'm so soft to you, a harmless little bunny, and then I write something that totally makes people feel bad without meaning to. So maybe I'm just not very nice at all.

Monday, March 12, 2012

More Dead Dog Stuff, but also a Rainbow

This morning, I had to go to Gateway Animal Clinic and pick up Fox's ashes from them. It was raining and I hadn't been home from the night before yet, but Gateway is a walk-in clinic so if you don't get there early, sometimes you can end up waiting a while. I got there 15 minutes before they opened, and still had to wait a bit. Being in that waiting room is hard and wonderful at the same time - there are just so many dogs. A huge mastiff, a fat little bug eyed rat dog, the cutest dingo looking puppy you've ever seen. And then me, sitting there in the clothes from yesterday, hair a mess, sans animal. I was only waiting like 15 minutes, but it felt like forever. When I was finally called up, and had to say the words "I'm here to pick up Foxie's ashes", for a minute I thought I might lose it. And man I wish my mom hadn't started his file under Foxie instead of Fox. It's much easier to use the formal name than the one you used to call him in from the yard. I wasn't expecting tears, I tend to usually be pretty calm and hard about death. I didn't cry at Peter's funeral after all, and he was a human I loved. When she handed me the little plastic bag with the canister though, I pulled myself together and wiped the little leaks away from my eyes, signed for it, and then immediately hugged the bag close to my chest as I walked out. That surprised me, I hadn't been expecting to feel any sort of connection to a tin box covered in puppy paw print. But I held it super close, hugged it all the way to the car. I left it/him in the car when I got home, because I was afraid I would dwell on it/him if I took it/him inside with me. But now, honestly, I feel guilty with the box being left there in the garage, like I'm just leaving him alone out there, no windows cracked and it's such a nice day. We're such sentimental creatures. I was supposed to hold onto the box until Easter, when we're all going out to the farm and can bury him there. But I don't know, I think I'm going to have to leave it/him at Dad's house, I think my own imagination is too much for me. It's so light, it weighs practically nothing. That's the strangest part. 

I had to stop by the grocery store and get cat food before actually going home, because I left the cats with nothing the day before, and had felt super guilty the whole time. I certainly wasn't going to face them without something to give them. There were rainbows all over Cleveland this morning, the sunrise and the rain mixing like baking soda and vinegar. It occurs to me that every photo I have of a rainbow is from a grocery store parking lot, since those are the places around me where you can get the best view of the sky quickly. How sad is that? I have so many pictures of sunsets and sunrises and storm clouds, all framed by strip malls. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

James Van Der Beek, Telepathic Psychotic Fallen Angel Serial Killer

I think it makes total sense that my posts this week go from Dead Dog to God to James Van Der Beek. Stay with me here.

I never watched Dawson's Creek when it was on the air. Honestly, I've never really been into the primetime soap opera shows. I swear I've only watched the entire run of O.C. and One Tree Hill because they were on Soap Opera Network on Sunday mornings during my bad breakup periods, so I would wake up hungover and curl up on the couch for a few hours forgetting I had a soul until I was ready to face the world. 90210 was a thing for my generation, but I find it insipid. All of those people are bony and boring, and I didn't want to picture any of them having sex ever. That's the real key to making a good teen soap, you have to want all the characters to be sexing each other all the time. Donna was a complete beast, it wasn't sexy at all.

But recently my friend and I decided we are going to watch the entire Dawson's Creek catalog. My only exposure to James Van Der Beek before this was Rules of Attraction, an awesome movie where he plays a crazy college student who's also American Psycho's little brother, and a guest spot he did on Criminal Minds where he played a serial killer who thinks he's an angel of god. He was really great in both, so I already liked him. He's just really good at playing crazy. He's like the pretty Vincent D'onofrio. Van Der Beek pulls off this "I'm an angel, I'm a innocent soul, oh wait what the fuck I'm lost, oh screw all of this" look. So this is my existing view of him before sitting down to watch Dawson.

My friend calls him "Cereal Box Head", an opinion backed up by this amazing google search she did.

Another thing it's important to know about me is that when I watch shows like this, I have a habit of creating an alternate motivation for my favorite characters. For example, when I watch Gossip Girl, in my head Blair Waldorf is actually being kept alive by the government in a sensory deprivation tank where they feed her this nightmare dream of Blair's life, in order to elicit extreme emotional distress which they then use like a battery charge to fuel an energy machine which runs on tears and fear. If you watch the entire show with this in mind, it becomes something completely different and darker and better. Also the clothes make sense.

So we're about through the first season, and Dawson just discovered Michelle Williams isn't a virgin, and just at that moment I figured out what was going on in this show. 1) Dawson is an emerging psycho killer. You can see it in his face when he finds out the girl he likes isn't perfect - his entire demeanor becomes cold and mechanical, and he makes this weird little pained expressions. I fully expect by the last season he will be murdering tourists and using Joey's little boat to dump their body parts in the marsh. Also, that weird little Greek memorial where Pacey has sex with the teacher? Totally a sacrificial staging ground. Obviously he is the monster in that little movie he's making. 2) I think that James Van Der Beek is actually basing all of Dawson's reactions onscreen on a telepathic feed he has with the audience. Dawson's character is the Audience Surrogate, which is a literary device/character designed to let the audience express their confusion at what is exactly happening, or why? His face accurately reflects the astonishment, incredulity, and wonderment we all feel at the fact that Pacey is just obviously fucking a teacher and nobody in this supposedly tiny little town notices, and also why is everyone's skirt so short, wtf 90s? Also this totally fits with my first point, because I would totally kill Michelle William's character  too.

You guys should try this. It makes TV so much better. For instance, The Mentalist is an alien trying to get his spaceship back from Red John, so he can get home. Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey is actually D.H.Lawrence. Tyra on ANTM is a wicked fairy godmother, who preserves her youth by vampirically digesting the nervous breakdowns of young girls.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Pray Through Monsters

OK Cupid finally paid off, because some guy had this posted on his profile. It's Werner Herzog narrating a beautiful short film about a plastic bag. I know, that sounds very American Beauty, but this is really wonderful. I could listen to Herzog just say the word Monster over and over again for a decade. I love his voice. I don't know if it's the tone itself, or what he says, but it puts me in the same frame of mind as when you first wake up in the morning in bed by yourself and it's spring and warm outside. Remember what his last movie did to me? I just want to be his best friend. Or I only want to be friends with people who love him too.

I thought about God a lot yesterday, after the comedy show. I was hanging out with 2 people who believe in God, which is actually a pretty uncommon occurrence these days, to be with people who want to talk about that, who I like and respect and believe to be good decent people. I am, of course, atheist through and through. But I'm also a storyteller, and I believe in stories, narratives and magic as things people should use to interpret and color their world. So while I may have lots of problems  with religions, and can sound extremely caustic, bitter, and superior when it comes to living your life that way, part of me wants someone intelligent and curious to talk to me about what God means to them. Not in a "I'm going to convert you" sort of way, but in a "Let's exchange stories" way. I am afraid though, of that point which will inevitably come, where I can't hide the fact I think religion is ignorant and ruthless. I am afraid of what religion wants me to be, and how it wants to control my world and my sex. Maybe also they are afraid of the point where they will look at me and think "this person is lost and wrong". Maybe we are all walking around afraid our own judgments. Or is that only the best kind of people? Perhaps not enough people are afraid of their judgments and that's the whole problem.

I said something last night at the table, he asked "Atheist? not Agnostic?" and I replied "Science shows me everyone is equal." Which is true. Also true, science gives me miracles every day, real stories with vivid details and images and consequences. Science gives me all the miracles I need to try and be a better person. It teaches me responsibility, beauty, and objectivity. Gratefulness. Co-Existence. Curiosity. Maybe curiosity was the part missing from church. Science is more human to me than church, because it wants me to learn things. Which is all I really want to do.

I love the word Monster. It applies so many things, and All things, and it carries for me this vast gorgeous feeling of huge mystery and being, it conjures Bravery and Fear and makes my brain stretch. When I say it, it's like a mantra, it focuses my emotion on the idea that you can't know anything really about the thoughts and life of another being, inanimate or organic. Everything you know nothing about is a monster, and therefore Everything is a monster to everyone but the monster itself. Sometimes they are leering bloody nightmare things, war and betrayal and pain, and other times they are passive slow epic beasts moving in herds across plains, or trees the size of skyscrapers, or tiny little cats hunting bugs, or another person's body. The entire universe, oceans trees stars mountains planets, is contained in the word Monster. And that is the Word that makes me feel Love. That's a storyteller's spirituality, using a beast of the imagination to represent the complex beauty of atoms and chemical reactions.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Comedy is a Hard Cold Thing

My sister, Carey Callahan, does stand up comedy. I like her blog a lot too, but fair warning, if you go there right now you're just going to read more about our dead dog. I try to go to her shows whenever I can because, you know, I'm a good supportive sister. But also because I just like open mics so much, and Carey when she's on a roll is just so good. Of course, I'm like her perfectly designed fan, because we have the same mental structures built up in our heads, we think the same way. But no, she's really cerebral and emotional and good. Sometimes she's awful. But even when she's awful, she's going somewhere with it. Last night I went to the Bela Dubby Monday night open mic, which those two shadowy characters above host, and then afterwards we all went to the Corner Pub open mic down the street.

Comedy open mics are really weird amazing things. Essentially, if it's a good one, you're voluntarily listening to crazy people rant. Of course there are punchlines, but that's just part of the structure. Some people put their thoughts in poetry structures, others put them in novels or plays. But the tricky part about comedy is that you are targeting the most absurd parts of the universe. Poets try to conjure beauty, novelists try to conjure - I don't know, the human experience whatever, but comics are actively seeking out the parts that make no sense. When you really get trapped in a comedy k-hole, the entire whole of creation descends upon you, and you are stuck in this uncomfortable dark wreck of reality where all you can do, all that's left to do, is to laugh because Yes, That Shit is Fucked Up. Maybe the best comparison to a comedy show is ripping away a thousand scabs. It hurts and feels really good at the same time. The best comics that I love watching are essentially just very smart sensitive people getting up there and flaying themselves for you. There's blood and violence.

 If you go to a more professional show, an actual line up, then the masochism is polished and the edges are worn soft, and it's Art. At open mics though, the floors are covered in blood. People are bombing, people are ranting and raving, they are standing before you with all their guts and veins showing. Sometimes it's the worst. Other times it's transcendental. Most of the time it's a mix of both, and if you are tapped into the emotion, if you're paying attention to what's really going on, it leaves you feeling worn out and drained, like an orgasm.

 As an audience member, you are part of this predatory cycle, you are the enemy and the enabler at the same time. It's a powerful position to be in, it makes you feel ashamed and proud and stupid and smart. Last night, I was really thinking about how comedy takes the basic interaction of artist and audience, and makes it visceral, draws it out cartoon style. As a writer, I'm having the same exchange with my readers. But I can't see you. I don't have to look at your faces while you're reading me, or watch your reaction when it's all over. Even without that face to face, I'm crazy addicted to people reading me, so I can only imagine the addiction that comes over someone performing on a stage like that. It must be overwhelming and harsh, and the highs must be fantastic. I know how very intelligent and observant and kind some of these guys are, and sometimes I actually feel guilty watching them blow themselves to pieces just to make me laugh. But then, I remember my role in food chain. I consume them, and produce laughter, which they can consume, which allows them to grow more. It's a fucking cycle of life. It's emotional photosynthesis.

 Every Monday night at Bela Dubby 8:30pm, and Corner Pub around 10:30pm there are open mics, which are free and no promises. Tonight is a Cash Mob at Chucklefck, 8pm the Grog Shop. Every Tuesday, they do this at the Grog. Next week is Neal Brennan, who's going to be great. The week after is James Fritz from Chicago, who I'm a huge fan of. And the week after is Last Call Cleveland, and another really great comic from Chicago Kenny DeForest is on that bill, so I'll be at all of these. Last night Kenny did both open mics despite just getting off a ten hour bus trip from New York, and looking like he was going to fall down with exhaustion. That's how fucking crazy these people are. I just hope to god I never fall in love with a stand up comic. It's hard, they can be beautiful.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Good Dog

Today is the day we put Fox down. I have to go help Mom take him to the vet in few minutes here. Right now I'm lying on the bed upstairs with him, which is the place he's been basically living for the past few months. He's just passed out. It's definitely time. He's been going downhill for a while, and he won't even leave the bed to eat now. So, it's okay, I'm okay with that part. I don't want him to be in pain.

 I made him a plate of bacon covered in tomato sauce this morning, he ate the whole thing in like 5 seconds. I wish I had thought to bring him some chocolate, since it can't hurt him now.

 He's a very old dog. Our poor dog. I thought I would write about feelings of guilt, or death, or something like that. But I haven't got it in me. This isn't some solemn introspective time. It's just a thing that happens. Family pets get old and die. It sucks. It hurts.

 He used to be so young, and energetic. He was the most photogenic puppy you ever saw. I'm sad that I have no pictures of him when we first got him, but it was over 15 years ago. But seriously, he was prettier than any dog you've ever seen, he was prettier than all your fucking puppies. I used to have a pocket photo of him looking all perky eared and cute among some daffodils, that I kept in my wallet when I was away at Kent, I wish I could find it now. He used to try and get all uppity with me when it came to Mom's attention, like the two of us in particular were in competition.

 Everyone in our family has a different relationship with Fox. Carrie's got the last year, where he slept with her and she took care of him. Nick's got the years and years of being the one who took him on walks once a day around the neighborhood. He's always been Mom's puppy, definitively and without question. Dad and Fox have some sort of private understanding the rest of us don't know about. And me, after I moved out, I used to love to borrow Fox, take him on play dates with my friends' dogs, because I wanted my own dog so badly. I took him to parks, and on road trips, and made him sit on the rocks at Edgewater which he hated. He would just hunker down on the rock as far away from the water as he could get, and just sit there petrified. He  used to leave the yard every morning when Mom let him out, and roam around the neighborhood saying hi to everyone, so that when Nick walked him, strangers would know him and tell us how pretty he was. Remember when we discovered that the neighbors in the apartment complex next door had been feeding him bologna and bringing him into their homes? God, he would just go anywhere with anyone, he was so friendly. Or when someone picked him up, and later we found him all the way at Parmatown Mall, a week later? When he was hit by that car and was totally fine? And he always went #2 in the exact same place in the backyard, all the way in the back by the fence, always in the same spot. We never had to clean up after him. He loved chasing things you threw, but would never bring them back. And he used to chew through everything, especially pig ears, but also giant marrow filled bones Mom would get from the butcher. He loved fighting you for the rope toy more than anything, and he loved wrestling with you, he would go nuts when I would just put my whole hand in his mouth, or when you curled up in a ball on the floor and hid your head from him. Mom would feed him communion wafers at Christmas and we all rolled our eyes at her because she treated him just like one of her children. Cause he's basically our little brother.

 I'm starting to cry now, so I'm going to stop, because I'm sure I'll have time for crying later but I don't want to go to the vet crying cause I don't want him to see that we're upset. I wanted to write this before, not after, because right now he IS a very good dog, and we love him very much, and I would rather think about him in the present sense while I can.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Hero Visits the City

I went on Friday to see the tribute to John Glenn program at Cleveland State University. It was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Glenn being the first American to orbit the Earth, which is a heavy sentence right there. One, 50 years is...well let's just say that this past week I've had trouble conceiving of spans of time longer than 20 years. Then there's the American part. Not the first human to orbit the Earth, that honor belongs to Yuri Gagarin. Last year was that 50yr anniversary, Yuri orbited the Earth on 12 April 1961. So John Glenn was the second human to orbit the Earth, which is pretty insanely impressive anyway. But no, he was the FIRST American, that's how we say it. Sidenote: the Russians first put a woman in space in 1962. The first American woman went up 1983. Just saying. Then, once you get past the 50 and the American parts, there's that whole Orbiting the Earth. A crazy thought, even now, half a century later. Maybe people in the 1960s just assumed the new century would mean we were all flying into space every other weekend. And frankly, probably someone from some nation is doing that. But it ain't me babe, it ain't me.

 So I went wandering down to the Wolfstein Center by myself. The security guard made me throw my breathmints away. Well, it was more like he was all " really can't have those..." and I was like "they're just breathmints". To which he made a really pained face, and I said "do you want me to throw them away?" and he apologetically replied "If they're not important to you." Well, that made me think. Because technically they aren't important to me, they only represent a 1.50 value. But emotionally, being a smoker, they're awfully important. About one hour into the ceremony, I had the worst movie theater breath. Also, you know 1.50 used to be a really good daily wage. Whatever, of course I just tossed them. Cause I'm American after all.

 Don't worry, this isn't going to be some anti-American rant, I don't think. I'm pretty happy I can just buy more breathmints.

 They played the Marine's Hymn at the beginning. The place was filled with the kind of adults you would expect to see at a NASA event, and their nice well behaved children, and school kids who didn't turn off their cellphones. Everyone was good and silent, and in the very front there were 2 lone Marines in the audience who stood at attention during the song. The whole thing was very proper and courteous. Everyone clapped at all the right points and during the Anthem we all sang quietly under our collective breath to not overshadow the choir. That's a strange and moving experience, to be with a large group of people, agenda-less, singing the Anthem. That doesn't happen a lot these days. There was a minute of silence to remember the Chardon school shooting, and once again, doing collective actions like that provides this strange sense of calmness and duty. The silence of a stadium is powerful, more powerful than noise.

 There was a roll call of all the atronauts in the audience, and everyone including me clapped extremely sincerely, cause goddamn it if you're an astronaut, if you've been in space, if you've left the safety of our planet and shot yourself up into the ether strapped onto a thousand pounds of explosives, how can you not clap? The word hero has negative connotations to a lot of us. Perhaps a leftover knee jerk reaction from our parents' generation and their own bad wars. Or maybe we just can't take the constant use of the phrase "American Hero" as propaganda, applied to every single person who does any kind of military service at all. It's as overplayed as a Spin Doctors song. But despite that, it's still a powerful idea - the Homecoming of a Hero, the Conquering Hero. And there can't be a more dramatic homecoming than for people coming back from space. Also, frankly, not to be anti-military, but it's nice to honor heroes who aren't soldiers. To acknowledge there are greater things you can do for your country than kill people. I think the thing I respect most about Glenn is that he convinced them to let him go back into Space one more time, even though he was on the far side of 70, just because he wanted to go. That's the aspect that makes me admire him.

 The whole event gave me a vision of a small town welcoming back a dragon killer. There was the same run of bureaucrat officials singing the same praises, of peers, the wealthy businessman who really runs the town (in this case, that was the CSU president, who did give the best speech, he is a charming man). There were the children singing, and the home guard paying respects, and standing ovation after ovation. There was a video put together by all the old geeks at NASA, cheesy, awkward, overly sentimental and extremely cute. It made me tear up, true story. Because cheesiness and sentimentality aside, Glenn is pretty close to St. George. Astronaut and Statesman and Devoted Husband, champion of the Intelligentsia. Did you know Glenn became an astronaut without a college degree? How many honorary degrees does he have now? Well, at least one more, cause CSU gave him that too. Everyone gave his wife props too, Dr. Annie. I know next to nothing about her, but maybe I should. At one point, someone referred to her as his bride, which made them sound like a very young newlywed couple, instead of the veteran couple of 68 years. Jesus, is that right? 2012 - 1943? That's insane. Another phrase that threw me was when they referred to the "Original 7", the first seven American astronauts. That sounds very alien and mythic doesn't it? The Original Seven. It conjures the best kind of hero connotations. Bringing Annie into it, over and over, gave the whole proceeding a very 60s space program glamour. It was easy to feel we were back on the cusp of a Golden Age, where family values and scientific rationality went hand in hand.

 Glenn's speech was very well done, as one would expect from a guy who'd been learning to give speeches for the last 60 years. It was alternately funny and serious. It was first an argument in favor of American curiosity, that doing things just to do them had been what made us great in the first place, and then moved into a plea to support the reinstallation of shuttle service to the International Space Station. He was of course talking to a room of people already converted - everyone in there believed in science, that was the one thing we could all agree on. And maybe that was my biggest emotional takeaway. Listening to a real hero speak was important and great, but being in a huge crowd of people who believed in Reason and Science, that was amazing. Watching the two little girls in pink fleece jackets sitting next to their mother, or the little boy sitting in between his mom and dad, all of them watching carefully, barely fidgeting at all during all the speeches, that was such a wave of heartwarming it swallowed my whole chest. If I'd had a camera with me, I would have gone around the whole stadium, taking pictures of the childrens' faces.

 I sometimes think the families of astronauts must be the superior families of this country, producing children that are not only the smartest, the most fit, but also the bravest. One of the astronauts that went on the shuttle trip the second time Glenn went into space told this story. A reporter asked this guy's father how he felt about his son going into space with Glenn, and his father replied "My son is not flying with John Glenn, John Glenn is flying with my son." People are fucking great, aren't they? Astronauts are just one more thing that reminds me that I love people.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sunday Road Trip Part 2: The Rock Garden in Springfield OH

This was my first thought, as we walked timidly behind the very normal looking bungalow house in the very normal looking neighborhood of bungalow houses and into...this. It hit me immediately, like a shock I thought, "I am never going to create anything like this, I am never going to care that much about just one thing to do something like this." And maybe that's cause I don't ever want to stay in one spot that long. Like, this guy lived here forever. 60 years. I can't even begin to conceive of that span of time, I'm practically a baby compared to that. But also maybe it's because that's a lot of little rocks.

I get it. Creation is hard. There's so many things just like this rock garden, built up by tiny little detailed pieces, a novel, a relationship, a body of work, a life. If I can't imagine creating something like this, then how can I even begin to think about those other things? At least this work of art is simply explained, it's one rock after another, it's a simple long process, rote. Those other things? You can't even draw blueprints for them. You just have to keep plugging away in the darkness, not knowing where it's going, try to create a lighted path just by visualizing it ethereal brick by brick. Year after year, over and over. Where the fuck am I going to be when I'm 40? Imagining that is like trying to conceptualize the entertainment industry in 100 years, insane and fictional and inherently wrong. The entire universe's timeline seems contained in my lifetime, and it's moving just as slow. It's an abyss I'm standing on, looking over, 40. I like abysses, a lot, they are super cool, but like, I'm not ready to just fall in. I want a rope or something. This guy, he made this rock garden his rope.

This day was a good brick though. I guess I feel that way about most days, so I guess something's being built whether or not I know what exactly it's shaping up to be. There was a point this day where we stopped at a bar to get food, and it was a pub in Urbana, OH on a Sunday, meaning no liquor and cash only, and the waitress got the chicken fingers from the back freezer in ziploc bags to throw them in the fryer. We drank beers and ate chicken fingers, watched Nascar and listened to Roy Orbison. Then we got back on the road and drove through Ohio listening to Drake.

 The problem is instead of seeing myself working on building other things, instead I'm just always working on building myself. Don't tell me that's okay. That's not okay. I want to be focused on something else, something permanent and inorganic and real in a way I can actually handle and give to someone. Instead I'm traipsing around in cars, doing and seeing weird things anywhere I can, and I'm a pretty solid product but also I'm a human being and it's sort of illegal to try and get someone to buy me. I guess metaphorically, it's okay. But I want actual cash.

(Has the term Laser Punk been used yet? As the next steampunk? I need more of an education in labels. Like, are we just using Modernist across the board now, or is there a secret new term for the art scene now that only art students and I guess people who actually read criticism know? And Dystopian, that terms been spittled to death. I don't want to be steampunk or dystopian, I want to be Laser Punk. Since we totally have lasers already, and we've had punk for way too long, in my head Laser Punk looks like a kid who works at his dad's used tire store and listens to dance music, only he's about 2 years behind Europe. He has a haircut that looks like a domesticated Yu-gi-oh. He likes painting on super large canvasses. He and his friends used to have a Queen cover band in high school, and he played bass. He has opinions about copywright and internet law.

 He probably lives somewhere in Marysville. He should move to Baltimore with me. Laser Punk Boyfriend.)

I wanted to write something beautiful and fun about this place, maybe about villagers shrunk by the evil church,  or avenging soldiers that came to life after dark. While we were there, I said I should write a children's book about a mouse living in this place. These are things I should do. But instead it turns out this place just makes me aware of how old I am. So very very old. And young. Both at the same time - the fear of old and the ineffectiveness of young. It's like I'm a top someone just set off spinning. Seriously though, how do I build something like this?