Wednesday, February 27, 2008


i read quite a bit of press about this movie (titled dedication, like this blog entry) when it was shown at sundance.
the critics were really into it.
i was already a fan of directior (and actor, though not in this) justin theroux, for his really great acting, NOT because he's a fox. but wow, he's not ugly. also, he's pretty funny! (you know how i like funny, people.) additionally, he's got all sorts of indie cred, and has been in an appealing mix of high and low brow projects. (he was in miami vice, which was easily the worst movie ever, in the history of the world. he was also in charlie's angels: full throttle, which was kinda the best movie ever, if you are me.) but the very first thing that got my attention was an interview between him and mary-louise parker, who is a bad-ass, and who is his neighbor. bitch. he was charming and interesting and, again i say, NOT UGLY. (i'd like to apologize to shannon, my husband. i love you, and my feelings for this person, who is a stranger to me, will not endanger my love and dedication [<--hah!] to our union.) anyhoodle, back to the movie. there was a lot of good press about it, and i was glad, because i am rooting for him and he tends to do things that are, if not awesome to me, at least interesting. he seems like a kindred spirit. i had really wanted to see it in the theatres, to put my money where my heaving loins/artistic sensibility is, but it was in and out like nothing, and sonoma county is pretty weak on the art house films. but it's out on dvd finally!! i netflix-ed it, and we watched it the other night, and it was worth the wait. it's a, dare i say it, quirky romance, between billy crudup's character and mandy moore's character. billy crudup's character, henry, is an insane bundle of neuroses, totally unfit for the company of fellow humans aside from his partner, rudy, played by the typically understated and brilliant tom wilkinson. they write children's books. rudy dies (of a brain tumor which was uncomfortable for me, but well-done) and henry is forced to collaborate with a new illustrator, lucy, played by mandy moore. they fall in love, duh, but the road is bumpy and there is some conflict. it's a pretty conventional story arc, from the love story perspective, but it's so unconventional in the other ways, so weird and funny, that the fact that it's a pretty standard love story makes it all the more enjoyable. billy crudup, finally exiting the black fog of infamy that his abandonment of mary-louise parker cast him in to (in my head), was wonderful. yes, he's an actor, but he's an Actor-actor, and he plays henry, who is, let's be honest, not a likable person AT ALL, as someone who somehow deserves the be loved. mandy moore, i want to find you and give you a hug because you were perfect for this role and played it so well. after the colossal stinker that that movie with you and diane keaton was, and then doing that idiotic movie with robin williams, i had my doubts, but you were excellent, and really held your own opposite some heavyweights. (aside note, mandy moore is 5'10" and billy crudup is, like, 4'9", but the filming did a good job of not making that an issue. they looked like they were in the same scale.) supporting cast was funny and strange and perfect, too - dianne weist, bob balaban, peter bogdanovich, and even martin freeman (of the UK version of the office, among other things.)
i was just so proud of everyone involved. i just want to find justin theroux and punch him in the arm and give him a high five.
just a high five. nothing else.
so, see it, okay?
there were a couple of eensy-weensy things i could say to criticize it, but i'll save it until you see it, and then we can talk about ti together, okay?
(lu, you should especially see it, because the girl character is named 'lucy,' too, so you can imagine that they're talking about/to you, and that will be fun for you, right?)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

good quotes.

writing a novel is like driving a car at night. you can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. - e.l. doctorow

writing is so difficult that i often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter. - jessamyn west

what you have to do now is work. there's no right way to start. - anna held audette

this book is holding my hand and guiding me through the storm:

dear anne lamott,
thank you. not a moment too soon.
kira fisher

Friday, February 22, 2008

writing blahblahblah.

i know i just said this last time, but writing really is torture.
it's so hard, it's so exciting, it's just impossibly wonderful.
the struggle to say something better, to refine a sentence to the point of perfection, is one of the most difficult, noble pursuits i can imagine.
seriously, people, it's killing/saving me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

writing is torture.

last week's writing class was absolutely the best so far.

i've had some lingering doubts about how well i was fitting into the class, from a writing stand point. everyone else has a really sparse style, while mine is a 'more is more' kinda attitude. (which can also be used to describe my attitude towards jewelry, too, i think. just pile it all on there and go.)

we read chunks of our writing every week, what we've been working on that week, and afterwards we get comments.

everyone is very careful about each other's feelings and we use a the old compliment sandwich method of feedback (not purposely, but it just seems to work out this way) where there's a compliment, a minor criticism, and then another compliment.

i've felt like my compliments so far have been half-hearted, like the other people in the class, including my teacher, were struggling to find positive things to say. they were the kind of watered down that you give to a friend after you've just watched them in a terrible play, where you really reach to find something to say that is positive, despite having just watched/read/heard something almost without redeeming quality. (not that that's ever, happened to me, pals! you're all flawless, always, without exception!) like, 'wow! you sure wrote some stuff there! that was a lot of words you used!'

and then the criticism didn't feel like stuff i could grab on to, which was just as disappointing, because i am all about improvement on all levels. i am so hungry for things to work on, to apply myself to, ways to improve, in pretty much every area of my life.

so, last week, i got a lot of REAL praise for my week's writing, from both my classmates and my teacher. and i got feedback that was immediately helpful and totally on point. everyone's writing was really, really good, noticeably improved from weeks before, and it just felt like everyone's juices were flowing, so to speak.

i left totally excited, like, 'THAT is what i'm talking about!'

it was a nice little encouragement, like a little message from the Muses, telling me to keep writing. not that i would have quit writing, but i am not cut out for slogging away in the face of insane obstacles. i need an occasional ray of light, to mix metaphors.

then this week was torture again.

i have written more in the last few days than in years and i'd say 3 pages of the 15 are usable and the rest are the writing equivalent of what scales are for singers. just warming up. i just couldn't dig in. i tried the same section multiple times, stopping at the end of one sentence and starting all over again. it was so frustrating, to be working so hard and have nothing that i'd like to show for it, but then, at the same time, in a weird way, it was a little bit awesome. having to really brace my feet, bend my knees, drop my shoulder and fucking PUSH. i didn't give up, i didn't despair, because i realized it was just a bump in my writing road, and i just kept writing.

it was exciting.

i have to many things rattling around in my head. i started a new fiction story the other day, based on a sentence that popped into my head fully formed (like athena, kinda.) it's like...the handmaid's tale meets the golden compass. or something. i have no idea, really, what it is, but i only want to write that, and writing my memoir is feeling more challenging.

actually, i need to amend what i wrote above.

my writing of this new story was ease itself. it was fun, exciting and i could have worked on it for hours longer than the 3 i did. it was the dang memoir that was so hard. and i kinda wanted to chuck the memoir and just work on this new project, but i totally resisted that urge and forced myself to go some good work on the memoir. it might not be the best work, but it is stuff i won't be ashamed to share on thursday night, though i am not anticipating last week's accolades.

maybe, since i was so good about my memoir writing, i'll let myself work a little bit on the other one. just a little. not tons. like dessert.

i've been doing the majority of my writing in pen. this my axe,' as the guitarists say. mine is tha silky black one, with the gold fountain tip. it's so amazing. i am going through ink cartridges like nothing, which is making me feel like a polluting asshole, but i guess that's a bit better than using a disposable pen where i throw the WHOLE thing away. or something. i use a hard cover lined notebook, with paper that's thick enough to avoid bleed through from my wettish pen, but not super thick. i'm getting writing cramps, where my hand feels permanently frozen into a writing claw. it's cool. it's like i'm a dancer and i'm finally getting mangled-looking feet! i'm earning my wings, people! i've been enjoying the act of writing the memoir, LOVING my fancy pen and just generally down with my process.

but for this other story that i'm hatching i used my laptop, to compare the experiences.

so far i'm not seeing a dramatic difference, but i'm interested to see if anything pops up.

this last week i felt like i was coming out of my funk a bit. i called a bunch of people, while i had the energy. i worked out more. i just took advantage of the up-swing in my energy.

then the clouds came back and i realized how much the sunny spell had to do with my positive outlook. now i'm feeling a bit droopy again, but i'm also PMSing, so maybe it's nothing major. i mean, probably it's nothing major, because i'll be fine, but i am hoping that i have a little break from feeling filled to the brim with despair. it's been nice to feel so fit, emotionally.

i've begun seriously talking and thinking about selling Yumi. i haven't talked to allen about it yet. ideally, i'd never have to tell him, but i haven't come up with a scenario where that'll work since be lives there and he's obviously going to have some feelings about it. to say i am dreading it would be the making of a true, if under-, statement. is there something more extreme than dread? sinking dread? creeping dread? anticipating with abhorrence? i talked to our realtor about it, and got some info from her to help me, the names of some people in mendo who might be able to help me. i know the market is crap and whatnot, but seriously. i need to dump that thing. it's killing me, and not a little bit. actually, allen is killing me. the house is fine. he is not. the worry about him and the stupid sense of responsibility i feel for him, like he's an invalid who needs caring for or something, is fucking KILLING me.

what the hell kind of grown man is comfortable having a women more than 30 years younger than him supporting him? doesn't that make him feel bad about himself? it makes ME feel bad about HIM, for sure.

whatever. love and light, allen. get out of my house and go away.

more about writing.

alan, my teacher, said something that stuck with me a couple of classes ago. or maybe last class. i can't remember.

anyway, he warned us that writing would start taking over our lives, that everything else would fade back and a lot of things would seem less and less important in the face of our writing. that prophecy was both terrifying and exciting. i felt a thrill of anticipation for that sensation of absorption, that level of commitment and focus. i mean, i already have problems with letting crap slide, so that was scary to hear, but i appreciated the sentiment.

and these last few days i've felt it, just a bit. that feeling that all i want to do is write. i skipped the gym two days in a row, which for me is basically unheard of these days, because i was just so into my writing. i'm not really down with suddenly becoming a slug-butt again, but it is exciting to feel so moved.

he also read us some passages from hemingway's book on writing, titled, mysteriously, 'on writing.' hemingway suggested writing until you knew what was going to happen next. he thought we shouldn't write until we were feeling blank. he referred to our creativity like a well and said we should draw deeply from it, but always make sure to leave some, then to give it time to refill itself. so, when you're done for the day, stop and go do things that get you out of your head and away from writing.

i'm having trouble with the 'getting away from writing' thing at this point.

Friday, February 8, 2008

wow. grief.

i had underestimated this whole grieving thing.
i was so sad for a few months, and then it all started lightening up. i still felt sad, but in a less oppressive way. it felt like a manageable amount of emotion.
and then it got unmanageable again.
i got back to barely getting out of bed, doing nothing except going to the gym and sleeping and reading.
i wasn't prepared for moving so far back.
i think it's harder this time because everyone else has moved on, back to taking care of their own lives.
i think that's natural and i don't think anyone is abandoning me or anything, it's just the way things are.
there's a point where everyone else goes back to their lives, back to thinking about the things they're dealing with because you're out of the woods, and after that the calls stop and the check ins stop.
a friend warned me about this, actually, right after mom died. her dad died when she was my age, and she said that this would happen - that there would be a point where everyone else had moved on and you're alone with the grief, missing the checking in.
i don't feel like it's anyone's *job* to check in on me, naturally, and i know that everyone has stuff that they wrestle with, and lives to tend to. i ate up a lot of energy from other people, and it's totally necessary for them to take care of themselves.
so, here i am, back in the barely getting out of bed stage, but mostly alone this time.
it's unfortunate that i am so sad, and so lonely, and not really able to make calls myself, because what i probably need is to spend time with other people, but i can't make it happen.
of course, there are good days, or good hours.
yesterday i sat in the sun outside of whole foods, writing. i was feeling good in my skin, the sun felt wonderful, drinking my iced decaf latte with stevia and lowfat milk, using my fancy new pen that is AMAZING. the writing wasn't feeling like it was especially valuable material, but it all felt nice.
i'm three weeks into my writing class now.
week one was painful, in that i was a half an hour late for no especially good reason aside from me fucking up the time and then getting lost and not being able to find parking and having the wrong apartment number in my phone. it was excruciating walking into that apartment, late, meeting a bunch of people for the first time sweaty and out of breath, feeling like a big asshole. but i went. i seriously considered just leaving because i couldn't handle the embarrassment, and i might have at another time in my life, but i just took a deep breath and went for it.
i have to constantly battle the inner critic in me, telling me that i might not belong in the class because i'm not really a writer and i don't know what i'm doing and this sucks and it's all hopeless. i have to consciously let my mind spin itself around in manic circles and then just do it all anyway. maybe it sucks, but i'll write it anyway. maybe it'll be terrible and i'll be pelted with rotten produce, but i'll write anyway.
my teacher, alan kaufman, has talked a lot about making writing into a practice. he told us this story about when he was studying zen buddhism. he wouldn't see his guru/master/mentor more than every couple of weeks, and his master would come up to him and ask him, 'have you been sitting zazen like that this whole time?' alan would look at himself and realize he was all slouched over, his mind was wandering, his posture crappy. his master would say, 'yeah, so, you haven't been sitting zazen.' because the difficulty of the sitting *is* the practice. it's not just copping a squat and letting your mind wander. it's your posture and your breathing and your gaze and your hands and everything together and it's hard, which is why everyone doesn't do it.
so, he was talking about writing practice the same way. it's not just sitting down with a pen someplace and jotting some stuff down. it's the discipline of doing it everyday, even when it's hard, at the right place, the right time, focused on a topic. and again, there's a reason why not everyone is a writer. because writing is fucking hard.
i'm working on my memoir about mom's death. i'm still a little uncomfortable with the idea of a memoir, because of the cliche of it, but it's just so THERE for writing about.
i found the difficulty of writing and the difficulty of grieving got a little tangled this week, though. writing about mom and her death as i'm processing my feelings about my mom and her death make the writing even harder.
alan suggested that i might need to consider if this is the project i want to work on, which i have certainly pondered myself, but i am not seeing anything else. this feels like the project, but it's true that writing i hard enough without adding in the extra weight of sadness.
i'm going to post this, and then eat some breakfast and get ready for the gym, but i'll be back soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

hard times again

i haven't been writing much.
i'm having a hardhardhard time again.
i can't really talk much about it because i have to get ready to leave for my writing class, but i just thought i'd let you know i'm alive, i'm struggling, doing lots of reading, going to the gym and that's about it.
i'm going to endeavor to write more again, because it's good for my melon.
sometimes, when you're sad, the last thing you want to talk about is being sad.
sometimes you don't want to talk at all.