Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Kind of Girl Who Laughs and Says Get Up Off Your Knees

All day long, it's been Monday. Perhaps you know this, perhaps calenders are an important part of your life. Chances are, you have been aware of Monday. Like the song "Manic Monday." Well, now it is 5:37 A.M. on Tuesday, so it's not Monday anymore. The point is that yesterday WAS Monday. But you wouldn't know that by speaking to me --

Me: "You can take 8th avenue, it won't be rush hour 'cause it's the weekend,"
Person on street asking for directions: "It's Monday."

Me: "You have class tonight, right?"
Alex: "No, it's Monday."

Natalie: "Do you wanna work out tomorrow?"
Me: "Oh, I can't do that tomorrow, I have therapy on Wednesdays."
Natalie: "It's Monday."

Alex: "Sooooo ... when do I see you again?"
Me: "Wednesday? Is that tomorrow?"
Alex: "Tomorrow is Tuesday."
Me: "Wednesday?"
Alex: "Okay!'

I was thinking about my book today. Memoirs usually have two parts -- the title intended to carry great import and capture your attention; Wasted, Smashed, A Million Little Pieces, Night, Prozac Nation, Now, More, Again, An Unquiet Mind, the Boy Soldier, The Mistresses' Daughter, Microthrills ... and these are always eye-catching titles used to lead into the SUB title which explains that the book isn't, as I wished it had been, about smashing people with giant pumpkins until their heads got good and wasted into a million little pieces and then we all took Prozac to forget. Rather, they explain what the book's about.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

"An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness"
"Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality"
"The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness"
"The Day the Voices Stopped: A Schizophrenic's Journey from Madness to Hope"
"Madness: A Bipolar Life"
"Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bullimia"
"Girlbomb: A Halfway-Homeless Memoir"
"Now, More, Again: A Memoir of Addiction"
"Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive"
"Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness "
"Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder"
"Pain in the Arms of Joy: Thoughts of a Borderline Personality"

I don't know my title yet but we've decided my subtitle will for sure be "A Memoir of Other People's Madness." Possible Title-Titles include "The Autobiography of Sancho Panza," among others.

Once they did a typo in this Stephen Dunn review I wrote, where they said "among other homes" instead of "among other awards," and so I always want to write "among other homes," as a joke on everything, but no one would get it besides me, like most of my jokes.

Speaking of, I think that's one of the funniest ideas I had today. I might wake up and think it's actually tacky. I dunno right now. Whatevs.


One time at band camp, I mean, at the Olive Garden, I was eating my stolen Tour of Italy (lasanga, fettucine alfredo, chicken parm, about enough calories to send Lance Armstrong into immediate cardiac arrest and to send me into a stomach ailment I found mysterious rather than consequential) and Layna, this compulsive liar who always talked about going to Harvard even though she didn't, was looking out the window with her little salad and its mediocre Italian dressing and she goes, Marie, have you ever seen that movie, Magnolia?

Yeah, I said. I loved that movie, actually. Magnolia.

Marie, she said. Do you remember the part in the bar, where he's sitting at the end of it -- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith? What he says?

I don't, I said. I don't remember what he said, not exactly.

It's how I feel right now, she said, cigarette in hand, smoke like ghost-hands in greasy air. I ate more lasanga, not 'cause I like lasanga really, but 'cause I was hungry.

Well, she said, this is what he said: "I really do have love to give, I just don't know where to put it."

Promise me you'll never go away
Promise me you'll always stay

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've Been Doing Circles I'm Taken I Am Yours I am Doing VLOGS I Collapse

Last week, I wrote an opus-y piece regarding my super-important feelings on blogging, identity crises, true sentences, feeling unhinged, instant gratification vs. real literature, returning to the deep yearnings of my soul (books, print, tangible words, small silent private lives), feeling slightly insane w/o my anti-anxiety meds, wanting to call a team meeting with my head, and other very world-shatteringly important milestones of the twentysomething apspirant's Search for Self. I read this and this and this and this. Then, instead of finishing this navel-gazing epic [or anything] I pulled a MeMeMeMe and, per Haviland's request -- busted this pop stand for sunnier skies. I was lucky enough to be able to escape: clean blue sky, those lappy waves, long roads through mountains and along ocean, sandy feet, and an internet-free home. I hacked at my ars poetica while in the air on my way .. then I realized; why I am I spending so much time writing about how I need to spend more time writing/reading, when clearly I should just be writing/reading? So that's what I did.

I still don't know the answers to most of the questions I've been asking myself, and every day there seem to be more questions. I don't know.

One thing is pressing, then something else presses harder. Our brains only have room for one thing at a time. Also I'm still chillin' in this self-consciousness fog, trying to shake irrational insults/judgments that wound deeper than they oughta, but this is me, this is me, this is me, calm down, I'm calling you to say I'm capsized erring on the edge of safe, calm down I'm calling back to say I'm home now and coming around .. since returning, I see that maybe life is simply limbo, from now on, let's only speak in invisible ink. You go first.

In times like this, only one person and one thing can make you post again during a self-imposed hiatus ... and that's my dearest BFF Haviland Stilwell and her love of and natural talent for The Vlog. So ladies and gentleman, I present to you the longest vlog ever, starring Haviland Herself.

This blog features Haviland P. Stillwell herself, along with Cait's laughter in the backgorund, and some clips from a vlog that Alex and I tried to do but then gave up after about two minutes. There's also a few flashbacks. It's an epic, like Gone with the Wind. Topics discussed include drama, comedy, tragedy, the meaning of life, very important arguments of modern literary theory, and gymnastics. Oh right and flying lesbians. And; briefly .. the riese & haviland true hollywood story, Cait & I's phone call from Leisha Hailey, Los Angeles, etc.

0. Intro: Tupac /California Love
1. "Haviland & Riese: The True Hollywood Story" : Melissa Ferrick / The Breakup Song
2 "Oh Fans oh Fans" : Once on this Island / Waiting for Life
3. "Mini-Feed Me" : The Cure / Pictures of You
4. "Fiction vs. Reality" : Uh Huh Her / Explode
5. "I Do Not Know Who I Am" : The Who/ Who Are You

Monday, April 21, 2008

This Girl Called, Interrupted

New York might not know that I can see her veins through her skin now, or the scar where she got her tattoo removed. I'd always liked that tattoo -- if only because it seemed like something permanent -- but I guess I never told her that out loud.

Sometimes, I spot a break of sweat or an incandescent glance -- a sweet split-open moment where I can see absolutely that she's lying, possibly even to herself, and that we both know it, and that I'm going to let her lie, and furthermore, listen, New York has her reasons; knows we can't argue.

Me: I'm sorry.
New York: What did I tell you about that? All the apologizing.
Me: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Thank you.
New York: And that --
Me: Thank you.

New York might not know that when she turns from me, her back and its blades to my face, her front and its eager flesh to the wall, that I want to make her bleed so bad. But moreso, I want to make myself bleed. I can't tell if New York wants to hurt me or if she just doesn't care about me at all.

So I remain still, and wait for the bite. All night long, I wait for the bite.

She sleeps. New York sleeps. New York sleeps but I can't:

New York: I never sleep. There's so much anxiety, a fog of it. And those damned amphetamines ... consequently; the pearls.
Me: Always the pearls.


Out West, wind whips and water laps like the earth itself drifting in and out of sleep. Our feet sandy, laughter vaulting, we submerge constant self-analysis and its demanding dreams in favour of skylight's sunny screams. Our brains [our sins, our souls, no longer nymphic but girl-children still we have been everywhere, we have seen nothing] empty out -- or is it something else, a kind of opening? -- to welcome wavesounds and the soft pulse of a world barely awake. We walk easily along a whole coast inhabited by half-alive humans who already know the secret we're just now learning: You never wanted to be whole-alive, did you. I mean, didn't it hurt? Wasn't it hard? That was just a trick life played on you to enable the breeding of strivers; dogged, miserable, beaming, brilliant. Somewhere between halfway and all the way, you lose something. What is it?

It's so pretty.

My father scooped me up with one arm before I got swallowed altogether by the wave. On the shore, my grandmother laughed nervously, one hand on her husband's stoic back, said something about being careful. Thank You, I say. I can't hear what she's saying about being careful, and the water keeps going. I shook sand from my suit, and hair. I never learned how to swim, but loved to tempt drowning.

California stops me with her breath, like just her body existing behind me is enough. She removes my shirt with her fingernails. I turn to her. I'm not hungry anymore, she's feeding me with air. She bites my lower lip, lets her teeth linger. Her tongue like waves with mine and then she pulls back, places her palm on my jutting hipbones and yanks me to her. I grab her hair in fists.

I'm curious about her secrets and her ugly heart, so when she leaves in the morning for work I snoop around and find an old drivers license with her photo on it; she looks young and angry and her name isn't Los Angeles. It is Kansas City. But I don't care, I like her plastic and fast and full of lies.

I'm grateful to everything, even to Kansas City, one of a million places I've never been.

On the beach, my feet still wet, my suit still soaked, we pass equal numbers of dogs and humans. There is also the audible experience of birds chirping.


And so I used to be fascinated with hands, lately I've been into spinal cords. The tracks beginning where legs leave off, parallel to gut, snaking gallantly towards brain, full of nobility. The ink at the back of the neck, itself a kind of prologue.

New York's hand grasps the back of my skull, my hair in her hand like it's anything you can steal, or borrow, without penalty, and so I bite her wrist. She doesn't flinch. Her unyielding mouth kisses me like I'll die from it, like she'll kill me of it but she does this with the silent understanding that first, before I die, I'll break out into a kind of muscle-wrought song that'll make everything worth it, and in that moment the rest will fade away -- the jagged anger, couples squabbling on street corners, car alarms and thump-thump hip-hop from giant mutated cars and cleaning trucks and go-go gunshots and kids looking for someone even more pissed off to get riled up about, girls and boys looking for love and knowing it won't even matter if it's real or not, as long as it's alive -- all of that fades away -- she tastes like toothpaste and cocaine, her fingers are limber snipers, knowing when to get there, and how, and then exactly how to exit without a trace on her but the signs nearly exploding from me.

And I'll thank her, which is a kind of apology for never being enough.

When I come, it'll be pure, it'll remind me of hearts and love, it will be a star, it will be a chorus of stars, a body pulsing like a star, when I come, you'll know it, you'll feel it all over, when I come, I'll say,

Here I Am,

I'll say,

This is Me,

you'll open your mouth, begin to speak, I'll say,


don't ruin it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day :: 4-17-2008

quote:"It ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her scepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places, after death ... perhaps - perhaps." (Virginia Wolff, Mrs. Dalloway)

1) 35 years later, can Erica Jong's feminist classic Fear of Flying stand up as actual literature? (@the chronicle of higher ed)
2) Michael Agger attempts to analyze the "feedback" for youtube's popular "Laughing Baby" video, where "commenting has become its own special form of social idiocy": "Laughing Baby vs. The YouTube Commenters." (@slate.com)
3) That slate article linked to these '07 videos from CollegeHumor - in which the sketch-writers have asked the question "what if businessmen communicated like youtube commenters?" - which jetted me out of EMO and into LOL in about ten seconds, no small feat (really, the fact I watched them all the way through is miracle enough, my video attention span is about ten seconds): Commenter Business Meeting 2 , Internet Commenter Business Meeting 1, Internet commenter funeral (@college humor)
4) Once upon a time, The Real World was an interesting social experiment. Season One, New York: "This is what Generation X was like before everyone decided to have their lives taped." Now? "Entering its 20th season, [TRW] long ago made the transition from grappling with issues to well, groping for butts." "The True Story of Seven Strangers ... And You" (@details)
5) "Here, a weary academic term is resuscitated and revisioned: creative writing as a necessary, death-defying act.": Miroslav Holub's poem "Creative Writing," translated from the Czech. (@poetry magazine)
6) "Why I Never Write Here, And Other Things That Are Wrong With Me" (@one d at a time)
7) I often leave books on my Visual Bookshelf forevs, and I do not know about this nagging robot of which he speaks: "A Supposedly Fun Facebook App I'll Never Use Again" (@vanity fair)
8) On the John Ashbery reading: Alone With John Ashbery (@bap blog)
9) "I wrote this next song years and years ago. I consider myself an easygoing, simple, lighthearted, positive, friendly, sweet, loveable person ... sadly, most people that have dated me don't think so. It's okay, they're bitches ... nooo ... they're not. [smiles] .. this song's about that": Tegan & Sara: "Fix You Up" (@edilma's corner)
10) Richard B. Woodward's Critical Library: Pound, Nabokov, Robert Warshow, R.P. Blackmur, John Szarkowski. (@critical mass)
Also) In the Flesh TONIGHT! (@lusty lady)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Auto-Fun of the Day :: 4-16-2008

quote:"It seems to me that a good formula to test the quality of a novel is, in the long run, a merging of the precision of poetry and the intuition of science. In order to bask in that magic a wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine. It is there that occurs the telltale tingle even though we must keep a little aloof, a little detached when reading. Then with a pleasure which is both sensual and intellectual we shall watch the artist build his castle of cards and watch the castle of cards become a castle of beautiful steel and glass." (Nabokov, "Good Readers and Good Writers")

Some brief announcements (did you know that I secretly LOVE announcements? Like, in school? Especially on the P.A., for reals.):
1) April 17th (Thursday): In the Flesh reading. I will be reading. You will be there. Awesome!
2) April 17th (Thursday): If you wanna pre-party, I'd suggest attending this LGBT Rally for Economic Justice, which'll feature a performance by my friend Angelica's band "In Deepest Sleep" @6pm. Ang likes Tegan & Sara, so it'll probs be pretty hot.
3) April 22nd (Tuesday): WAR Against Human Trafficking: An Evening of Music, Art and Activism - Many of my fellow Interlochen alums, unlike me, have actually grown up and made something of their lives. E.g., the dude on Blue's Clues and Brooke Bryant. Brooke's founded Women Artists Rock, a series of events that bring together socially conscious female musicians, visual artists, film makers, and activists to make a difference about the negative impact of human trafficking on individual lives & society in general. They're hosting their first event at the JCC Manhattan on the evening April 22nd, everyone should go! Check out the website or download the flyer here.

1) This is pretty much the best thing to ever happen, ever: fourfour's composed an Angela Chase (My So-Called Life) Highlight Reel -- "the wisdom of Angela Chase in all of its endearingly laughable splendor." She's probs my most formative influence. You'll notice this. (@fourfour)
2)I was just talking about this crazy bitch: Elizabeth Wurtzel, interviewed. (@the new haven independent)
3) Play the Font Game! I got 17/34, without cheating, which is bad, like worse than some people I know did on the ACTs.
4) One of my worst nightmares is getting trapped in an elevator. (@the new yorker)
5) Dirty Girls Book Party photos (I was super fashionably late, so um, not in any ... but still! Check it out!) and Live Girl Review interviews Rachel Kramer Bussel about Dirty Girls.
6)Bookstores are going extinct (@sf gate)
7) This would have been helpful when we had to sneak drinks into Naked Boys Singing: theater drink reform (@globe & mail)
8) The Guardian UK's Top 10 Archives -- matching great writers with great Top Tens in magical ways for many years. Highlights include "dystopian novels for teenagers," "books about outsiders," "books in which things end badly," and "books in which things end well." (@the guardian uk)
9) Poem by David Lehman: April 15. (@bap blog)
10) Democrats drink gin, vodka, white wine and Evian. Republicans drink bourbon, scotch, red wine and Fiji Water. Furthermore, Obama supporters like Bear Naked Granola, Clinton's fans (surprise!) like Kashi GoLean, and McCain's are constipated and therefore "enjoy" Fiber One. Seriously, I cannot make this stuff up, it's a real article. No word on the political affiliation of string cheese and leanpockets. (@the nytimes)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stuff I've Been Reading: March 2008

This may appear, based on title & content, to not be a Top Ten -- but there are, indeed, several top TWENTIES at the end of the post. This is becoming a habit, it's like the Sunday Top Ten Cop-Out. When your life's like mine, Sunday's a state of mind. (UPDATE: omg, it's Monday.) Tuesday Top Eights are always hot. Also I'm working on an Auto-Straddle Top Ten. Next week for sure, I'll be on top of it. Speaking of topping ...

Hey, have you seen the award-winning documentary "Uh Huh ... Her?" Well, there's a brief clip of me freaking out at the Austin airport -- half epileptic fit, half unbridled enthusiasm -- and the clip's placement suggests that I'm spazzing out to see my number one band Uh Huh Her live in concert. That's what we at Automatic Universal Studios call "movie magic," like Jaws except with fake glee instead of sharks (and less blood, though a little blood never hurt anyone). I mean, I was happy to see them, but that's not why I'm exploding. Like the Uh Huh Her song "Explode" ... right ...

The truth is: After exiting the plane, I turned on my Blackberry and what did I find there but an email from my number-one feeling Sam Anderson, the New York Magazine book critic I raved about in last month's installment of "Stuff I've Been Reading," thanking me wittily for my kind words. I know OMG! This my friends is the magic of the internet. As you may notice in the screenshot (left), I'm cradling the phone like it's Tinkerbell. Also, including Sam (we're probs on first name basis now), that means at least 18 people for sure read "Stuff I've Been Reading: February," the monthly account of one [wo]man's struggle with the monthly tide of the books she's bought and the books she's been meaning to read, inspired by Nick Hornby's Believer column by the same name. (See January, it explains). 18 may not be a lot, but it's not nothing. It's the age of consent, somewhere. Where was I.

Last week's New York Magazine explores "The New York Cannon 1968-2008," with lists of New Yorkish movies, architecture, art, theater, etc. compiled by its critics, including Sam Anderson's 26 favorite New Yorky books (here). His list includes only a few I've read -- Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (Grace Paley), Bad Behavior (Mary Gaitskill), Bright Lights Big City (Jay McInerney), The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier & Clay (Michael Chabon)-- but now I know about a whole bunch more books that I WANT to read. I've got some lists of my own at the end of this post. See that? What I did there? Does that count as bringing it back around?

The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys, various
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson
Drunk by Noon [poems], Jennifer L. Knox
The Book of Other People, Zadie Smith
Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters

This month I read only books given to me by other people (last month), including a book called The Book of Other People, which contained 23 stories about fictional other people even more incorrigible than my non-fictional friends.

I mentioned last week that I'd left Written on the Body on the plane back from L.A. -- I re-bought it, so maybe it technically is a gift I got myself? Anyhow I finished en route to Austin, and then, feeling accomplished, dove right in to Drunk by Noon, which I finished in about 30 minutes, 'cause it's a poetry book. "Look! I've finished two books already!" I said. Though I don't remember specifically, I'm guessing from experience that my companions' responses were as follows:

Cait: "Ooooo!"
Crystal: "What's that?" [that's Australian for "what did you say?"]
B.: "Good job, weirdo."

Usually it takes me a while to get into a novel and then my interest increases exponentially. Written on the Body sort of did the opposite -- at first, I was addicted to it. The voice was enthralling, sensual, brilliant, evocative, compelling.

Also, I confess I spent the first hundred or so pages awaiting the lesbian reveal. Then I read the back of the book -- "the narrator has not neither name nor gender," consequentially dug up the requisite gender studies academia on WOTB, realized the narrator remains gender-less, decided it was clearly a lady anyhow, and soldiered on. It's not that I'm a heterophobic reader, just that the lesbian reveal is always a good plot device, and I've read a bazillion hetero love scenes already in my life.

Howevs after re-purchasing the book, I never got back into it with my initial enthusiasm. Maybe it was the lack of underlines ... and I feel like it's blasphemy to speak ill of Winterson, but it gradually stumbled past plot into the vast meadows of endless emo. Like if the narrator was my friend, I'd be like, "shut up already and get a new girlfriend for crying out loud." Near the end the language got especially heavy-handed, like a personal blog about a breakup or me during Secrets Week. I started groaning a little and rolling my eyes and reading particularly annoying passages out loud. Maybe this's a side effect of reading too many bad personal blogs about bad breakups. For example, This Girl Called Automatic Win. Anyhow, it was good, one of the best books ever, etc.

Drunk by Noon was, as I expected from reading Knox's brill interview on bookslut (which made her my interview hero, I want to interview like her) was delightful & irreverant: "A chainsaw's God's way of evening out the playing field between you and everything, even the invisible stuff." How can you not like that? Or this: "Meat when it's alive's not meat, FYI. / Some meat's alive, and it lives in Wisconsin." I imagine hanging out with her would make me feel stupid in comparison, but smart by association, like she'd always be saying witty things and eating special foods I'd never heard of and emailing Denis Johnson while making poignant accurate observations about pop culture. [Read her here.]

While in Austin, I read nothing, 'cause I had to devote myself to Uh Huh Her/learning Final Cut.

So, I started The Book of Other People on the return flight. Zadie Smith, who I haven't read despite her obvious position in the hipster cannon, edited what's intended to be a series of character studies. Jaime said this about it, which I agree with: "several writers took the opportunity ["to make someone up"] to draw utterly empty, worthless, depressing people, in stories whose sole point seemed to be to show me how worthless, empty, and depressing these lives were. There was a string of that in the first half of the book."

I felt initially that TBOOP was taking advantage of my "read everything in the anthology from start to finish" policy, like a boy who thinks he can use my bisexuality to talk me into a threesome. This policy is intended to forcibly expose myself to things I wouldn't ordinarily read and to expand my brainspace, but can often feel like masochism.

A disadvantage of reading on planes is that you can't scream or jump out the window without alarming everyone, but you can force your seatmate to read your least favorite passages, to which she'll implore, "Why don't you just skip that story, weirdo?"


In particular I felt like A.L Kennedy's story, "Frank," was really testing my faithfulness to self-imposed policy. Note to ALK, who's already more successful than I'll ever be: A sentence fragment in and of itself does not dramatic effect make. Furthermore, "not making sense" and "being excessively elusive about important things like 'wtf is happening' while recording every goddamn irrelevant detail possible" isn't a literary technique, it's just annoying.

Highlights included a Miranda July story I'd actually already read in a June '07 New Yorker but enjoyed again, and stories by Vendela Vida, A.M. Homes, George Saunders, and a graphic (that means it is all pictures/cartoons) story by Chris Ware. Like Jaime, I really dug "Lèlè" by Edwidge Danticat. I'd reccomend it mostly, if only 'cause it's big like most British paperbacks and therefore easy to read at the gym, where I finally laid this beast to rest. Also Nick Hornby's in it, which might make this meta. I dunno. I feel if it'd been arranged differently, I'd be giving a 100% rave review. I tend to be more tolerant of bad stuff at the end. Like a relationship: first you must earn my trust, then you can do whatevs you want.

Haviland gave me Tipping the Velvet for my birthday (see her inscription, right, which I'll be selling on ebay when she gets famous) in September. It looked very long, and falls easily into the "pre-electricity lit" category (I prefer "post") so clearly I've avoided it 'til now, although I should've known better 'cause Hav NEVER finishes novels, so if she read this whole entire book, it must've been really good. BUT OMG -- it might be on my Top Five Novels of All Time list. And I'm not just saying that 'cause the novel includes female cross-dressing, dildos, fisting, prostitutes, theater, England, seafood and is named for an oral sex euphamism.

Why read it now? 'Cause in Cait's car, A;ex announced: "Guess what I'm reading? Tipping the Velvet." I think my line was, "OMG, best book EVER!" but of course, I hadn't read it, which would be like if I said to Alex, "Guess what my new favorite font is? Verdana!" and she'd never typed anything in Verdana. I couldn't have this.

"Oooo! I'm gonna read it now too! I'll race you," I said. "It'll be like book club."

Alex: "Okay! You'll win."
Me: "But I haven't started it yet."
Alex: "You'll still probably win though. I'm on page five."
Me: "I'm secretly a very slow reader."
Alex: "Nice shoulder!"

[I made up that last line, but it's something she'd say.]

A;ex took an early lead, but I bounded ahead when she went to Dinah Shore and I didn't go to China (realizing that this is now April's territory, but let's be real, clearly this's "Stuff I've Been Reading: From the last time I wrote this segment through last week.") -- reading the last 300 pages in one day.

Despite its homosexuality, Dinah Shore is apparently not conducive to reading, which's probs why Shane is dumb as rocks. Here's Alex's account of what it's like to try to read a book while surrounded by 50 gazillion drunk lesbians in Gammorah:

First of all, I'm not sure if I missed the memo or what, but apparently Dinah Shore is "not a library" as I was told by a very intoxicated/angry/possibly sexually frustrated lesbian who I just met that night. Do you know how difficult it is to enjoy a great strap-on sex scene with angry lesbians yelling at you at 5 a.m.? Obvs I had to go back and re-read the sex scenes like 5 times, which was just the most inconvenient thing ever!

(Notice the Victorian inflection in that last line? Yeah you did.)

I literally couldn't put it down, I don't mean that as a figure of speech. Its language is exact. The pacing is perfect. Waters is both a master storyteller and a master sentence-constructor. I read Tipping the Velvet while walking. At the gym, on the train, in my room, in the kitchen, while walking from my room to the kitchen, while walking down stairs, while waiting in line, while eating & drinking & lying in bed. I read it at the laundromat while a bunch of angry black people yelled about my favorite topic, the shitty U.S educational system, which I know a lot about and kinda wanted to chime in, but figured that my opinion would be unwelcome in this context.

Another confession of my secret low-cultureness; I kinda like pictures ... I like seeing what the movie-of-the-book looks like (as in -- not WATCHING it -- but knowing about it) or some revelatory cover art. I've not seen the BBC miniseries all the way through, but I've seen clips of it here and there 'cause it's ALWAYS on Logo (or at least it was back when I used to watch TV) so I already had an image in my head of what Nan & Kitty looked like, which I think helped my overall visualization and consequential rapture.

Waters says that lesbiainism is incidental to her books -- and though Tipping the Velvet's 19th century story is fully driven by the implicit societally unacceptable behavior of "toms," I think she's right on. All peoples can read & enjoy this book: brown, yellow, red, straight, or Max.

But, as one of maybe ten well-written stories about lesbos in the 19th century, I clearly enjoyed that element. I learned that lesbian groupthink hasn't much changed since the 19th century: then & now, ladies love to gossip about each other, covet photographs of semi-famous homos, rush into serious relationships, have a lot of feelings, and develop complicated social cliques of hopelessly intertwined lesbos who, when all in the same room, can easily entertain themselves all night long just by judging each other. Other people do arts & crafts, we judge.

It'd seem a primary lesbian literary archetype is that of "crushed-upon girl awakens latent homosexuality in narrator, leaves narrator for a man, narrator continues to pursue lesbian lifestyle while first love wastes her heart away in terrible hetero marriage," though I can't think of that many examples, I feel like I've read/watched it many-a-time. I guess it happens in real life (yes, right now, in some Illinois bedroom, a teenage girl is crying desperately with all the weight of her so far insignificant life crashing down around her like a rainstorm of glowly sticky ceiling stars and her best friend, less kind than she could be, is pulling away from her needy embraces, saying she has to go, he's waiting, and besides, she's not like that) and maybe has been me, too, on both sides.

One day, I'm actually going to return Heroes : Disc One to Netflix (which i've had now for like five months) and I'll watch Tipping the Velvet for real. Also, next time Hav suggests "Nan & Kitty" as costume of the day, I won't need to google it. I only wanna see the movie 'cause I want to re-experience the book over and over again. Even if you think you only like books with electric lights, you will like this book, and it will enrapture you when real life is less than perfect.

Oh, P.S., obviously I won the Reading Race I started. How, you may be wondering, did Alex lose after such a promising start? Here's how:

The prize is that now I can be smug and annoying about it. Really, it's remarkable I have any friends at all that aren't imaginary and/or stuffed animals. What's Tinkerbell's number one book, you may be wondering? Um, Tipping the Velvet! Also, close runner up: Dirty Girls. Very close third: Mrs. Pigs Bulk Buy, all about the dangers of enjoying too much ketchup.

Someone asked me in the reader survey for my Top 20 book Recommendations. I found this almost impossible, so instead I've compiled a series of lists across genres. I'm certain this is incomplete.

Also, the [self-imposed] rule is that I couldn't include the same author twice on the same list and I tried mostly to include books that I've read recreationaly, 'cause like, it'd be lame to just tell you to read Of Mice and Men or something, I'm sure you read that in 9th grade English anyhow. So these are not school books, mostly. RIGHT?! Most of them are also in my a-store.

My 20 Most Favorite Novels - In alphabetical order
20 Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid's Tale
19 Burgess, Anthony: A Clockwork Orange
18 Cunningham, Michael: A Home at the End of the World
17 Curran, Colleen: Whores on the Hill
16 Eugenides, Jeffery: The Virgin Suicides
15 Franzen, Jonathan: The Corrections
14 Gaitskill, Mary: Veronica
13 Hornby, Nick: High Fidelity
12 Kerouac, Jack: On the Road
11 Kundera, Milan: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
10 McInerney, Jay: Bright Lights Big City
9 McEwan, Ian: Saturday
8 Meeker, Marijane: Shockproof Sydney Skate
7 Moody, Rick: The Ice Storm
6 Nabakov, Vladimir: Lolita
5 Salinger, J.D. : A Catcher in the Rye
4 Sebold, Alice: The Lovely Bones
3 Sittenfeld, Curtis: Prep
2 Safran-Foer, Jonathan: Everything is Illuminated
1 Waters, Sarah: Tipping the Velvet

My 20 Most Favorite Short Story Books
20 Bloom, Amy: Come to Me
19 Bradbury, Ray: Martian Chronicles
18 Calvino, Italo: Invisible Cities
17 Carver, Raymond: Where I'm Calling From
16 Coupland, Douglass: Life After God
15 Driscoll, Jack: Wanting Only to Be Heard
14 Estep, Maggie: Soft Maniacs
13 Gaitskill, Mary: Bad Behavior
12 Homes, AM : The Safety of Objects
11 Houston, Pam: Cowboys are my Weakness
10 July, Miranda: Nobody Belongs Here More Than You
9 Miller, Rebecca: Personal Velocity
8 Moore, Lorrie: Birds of America
7 Nissen, Thisbe: Out of the Girl's Room and Into the Night
6 Orringer, Julie: How to Breathe Underwater
5 Paley, Grace: Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
4 Prose, Francine: Peaceable Kingdom
3 Roth, Phillip: Goodbye, Columbus
2 Salinger, J.D. : Nine Stories
1 Yoshimoto, Banana: NP

My 20 Most Favorite Memoirs
20 Allison, Dorothy: Bastard out of Carolina (I realize this isn't techinically a memoir, but c'mon, it is)
19 Bechdel, Alison: Fun Home
18 Carroll, Jim: The Basketball Diaries
17 Daum, Meghan: My Misspent Youth
16 Didion, Joan: The Year of Magical Thinking
15 Erlbaum, Janice: Girlbomb
14 Eggers, Dave: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
13 Hornbacher, Marya: Wasted
12 Karr, Mary : The Liar's Club
11 Kaysen, Susana: Girl, Interrupted
10 Kilmer-Purcell, Josh: I Am Not Myself These Days
9 Knapp, Caroline: Appetites
8 Levi, Primo: Survival in Auschwitz
7 O'Brien, Tim: If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home
6 Salzman, Mark: Lost in Place
5 Sedaris, David: Naked
4 Smith, Alison: Name All The Animals
3 Walls, Jeanette: The Glass Castle
2 Wurtzel, Elizabeth: More, Now, Again
1 Wolff, Tobias: This Boy's Life

[I know that "Wo" is alphabetically before "Wu," but I'm a little embarrassed about Elizabeth Wurtzel, so I couldn't put her in the number one spot even if it is alphabetical. But now I've drawn attention to it anyhow, which is something that Elizabeth would probably do.]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend Auto-Fun :: 4-13-2008

quote: "I pressed my lips against his ear and whispered again, It's not your fault. Perhaps this was really the only thing I had ever wanted to say to anyone, and be told." (Miranda July, "The Shared Patio")

1) Jackie Warner of Bravo's "Workout" is the new Shane: "For Housewives, She's the Hot Ticket." Highlights of this piece include zingers like: "Show me a straight guy that doesn't love to watch women kiss," "What in Sappho's name is going on?" "She's got fierce abs, a sexy voice and the most amazing lip gloss I have ever seen." (@nytimes)
2) The best part about this article is that it was suggested to me by Gmail adsense, and implores that "the very last thing an author should be doing is starting a blog": "Is Writer's Blog Causing Writer's Block?" (@the age.com.au)
3) Why are Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop the only women in Guardian's recent series of poetry booklets? Eva Salzman tries to answer: "How to Trivialize Women's Poetry" (@the guardian UK)
4) "An entire generation has been left incapable of understanding or enjoying the arts because of decades of neglect by Britan's Schools." Srsly they should come to America, it's even worse here. (@telegraph uk)
5) Newsflash! "Watching endless reruns of Friends and CSI might be compromising your happiness.":"Too much TV can leave you lonely." (@the columbus dispatch)
6) 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time includes videos and respective commentary on The State, Mr. Show, SNL, Upright Citizens Brigade, Kids in the Hall (omg, chicken lady, I nearly forgot about you), Monty Python, French & Saunders, SCTV, The Carol Burnett Show, Chapelle's Show, In Living Color, etc. Bass-o-Matic! Rick James! I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition! Too much TV can leave you lonely! LOL! Wheee! (@nerve & IFC)
7) Srsly though I still love Trebuchet the mostest: "On Choosing Type" (@ilovetypography.com)
8) Michael Chabon's rejected screenplay for Spiderman 2 is available, briefly, on McSweeny's. (thanks for this tip, adam!)
9) Paper Magazine's Most Beautiful People of 2008. Appropriately etheral shafts of light, requisite Gossip Girl actress, harp player, ethnic hipster DJs, young people w/famous and/or rich and/or hippie parents, indie filmmakers, performance artists, owners of a "clothing botique that presents vintage street fashion as objects d'art," etc.
10) Parents love text messaging almost as much as I do: "Running L8 But CU Soon, Luv Mom" My favorite part is the photo-slideshow of Mom texting. (@washington post.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

So Watch Your Head and Then Watch The Ground, It's a Silly Time to Learn to Swim

Though I honestly never sat through/paid attention to/understood The Matrix and therefore never grasped its widespread appeal, I frequently employ "there's a glitch in the matrix" to describe how life's going. E.g., this week. April is the cruelest month ... and so on. Disclaimer: I've been a little feverish for a few days now. I might just be talking crazy.

Life today isn't all that similar to life a week ago. Things keep happening that don't make sense, that seem wildly inappropriate, inspiring metaphors about being underwater and existing inside giant cottonballs.

Yesterday: my head felt like the moment the jets turn off in a hot tub ... a durrrrring pool of disappointed/subdued dumb bare skin. I didn't even do auto-fun! There's auto-fun in this post though, it's at the bottom, and footnoted throughout. I'm playing with it.

Does this happen every late March/early April? Last year, my entire life fell apart in about four days. In '06, I lost Lo & gained Haviland. '04: his other girlfriend & I paid him a surprise visit to tell him what we knew, '03 I fell head-over-heels for him in the first place. But those events (which ultimately in the scheme of things are fundamentally unimportant, as concentrated and personal as they are) aren't what I'm talking about --

it's more like when you walk outside and feel like everyone else outside has been transported to earth just that very morning, and you're still fumbling about like you've lived here for years.

Maybe we're still stuck on semesters, compelled to begin transition this time of year. I still call the last two weeks of December "winter break."

Some people I once knew seem so far underwater that I'm fairly certain even if I strapped on an oxygen tank and got all deep sea diver about it, I'd probs just hit my head on a coral reef (I can keep going with this metaphor ALL DAY, all night, watch me go!) or get hugged by a dolphin (yeah! That's my way of saying "this can be good or bad or neither." Dolphins! Manatees! I speak the secret language!)

And then; the most random people showing up in my inbox. Or on my facebook ... (1).

Yesterday I couldn't think/update (synonyms, maybe) 'cause it was my fourth morning running on no sleep 'cause every morning I'd been woken up by this noise, which I so kindly recorded for you because I am: 1. insane, 2. bitter:


So I figured I'd do the things I'm usually too anxious to sit still and do: I got my hair did by a trannie named Mariah from Texas. Now I look like a Bobsey Twin, which's fine (I've just been avoiding mirrors). I'd like to solve some mysteries or whatever it is that they did, first mystery: wtf?

Yesterday's weather was impossibly, aggressively sunshiney. I've been waking up from crazy dreams and then lying in bed for impossibly, aggressively long periods of post-dream reckoning -- the things that happen in my subconscious battle reality for possible truths. (Also, duende. (2))

You have plans, or something to say, and then a whole day passes where you have nothing at all whatsoever to say in a way that feels selfish and stark. Sometimes circumstances get you down (3), sometimes you wanna stop (4), but luckily I am a compulsive over-share-er and cannot ever stop (5). Obviously. I must breathe, blog, pay taxes ... (except that I just realized, err, I haven't paid taxes. Maybe I should. I think I'll contribute to the purchase of one soldier's pair of socks. Ideally, a schoolbook, but let's be real here, this be George W country.)

So my swamp-turtle mind felt the world recognized my silence and responded in kind -- my Blackberry was a little, silent turtle with nothing to share. Then I accidentally dropped it, turned it back on, and it exploded with everything I'd received that morning and afternoon at once. Also it's deleting messages at random.

Also a stranger just called me and left a voice mail recording of the news announcing airline-related information. An accented voice goes: "Hello? Hello?"

Last night was the book party for Dirty Girls at Sutra (6) (6a) (6b) ... I managed to rally for about three hours before feeling feverish again. For the first of those three hours, Alex and I got lost somewhere between chinatown, soho, the lower east side, the east village, and bangladesh. Luckily I like to walk. (7)

(Next week! "In the Flesh" at Happy Endings Lounge!)


The first glitch experience happened in 2000 -- it started when all my tips from an eight-hour lunch shift at The Olive Garden were stolen, meaning I'd just served approximately 545 unlimited soup salad & breadsticks lunches for fun, which's funny in that not-funny-at-all way. I came home to find roommate Sarah in a hot panic -- she'd just done the same thing w/her Blue Water Grill Lunch money, couldn't find it.

So what do I do -- I meet Meg at a The Columbia Cottage (Chinese, uptown, free wine) to drink 'til I forget about it, then jet to Times Sqaure to see The Matrix with a boy, paying just enough attention to grasp the glitch concept and then therefore apply it immediately.

"What are we doing?" The boy asks as he walks me home.

"What are you talking about?"

"You and me, what are you doing," he asks. "I'm 27, I don't play games."

About twenty blocks later he kisses me. (Reader: I'm nearly 27. Do I still play games? Did I then?) I sit on the steps and wonder how that happened & what I'm doing.

The next day : still woozy. Woozier still when Sarah & I choose a champagne brunch ("Are you celebrating something?" Um, yes, being served though we're only 18? But instead, this raw deal: we toast "To the future!"). 3 P.M. hits and I'm napping.

Apparently I'm still woozy when I wake up @ 6 p.m. and buy a plane ticket to Paris for no reason.

Ryan calls; he's fucked up an audition, this never happens, he feels disoriented and confused and do I want dinner before our friend's birthday party? I do, we do, and circa midnight, Ryan and I actually fall asleep on a couch in the pulsing downtown nightclub Roxy. We wake up confused, he wants another drink and I don't so we squabble and I flee home. Sarah's there.

"What are we doing?" Sarah asks.

"What are you talking about?" I respond.

"With our LIVES," she responds, but I know. I already know. We're college dropouts. We serve bad food, lose our money, sleep & drink. Her harp collects dust in the corner. I sometimes use my laptop for AIM, when the dial-up's working. What happened to all the self-important yearnings we had in boarding school, still so fresh on our sad young literary tongues? (8)

Later, I'm lying forlornly on my bottom bunk when Ryan arrives home and joins me (his bunk assignment is "top"). We apologize for fighting over nothing. He tells me about his fruitless gay bar hopping and flavored martinis.

"What are you doing?" He asks. Like, why am I so often sick? Why all the throwing up, all the almost fainting starry-eyed surprises? Why aren't I reading enough? He then tells me everything I'd ever wondered about, like what happened (with us) in high school (what were we doing? trying to be straight?). He answers all the questions I'd never have asked and then he gets to the point ... the real secret is: he loves me so much that he even admires me, and he demands I do more. Admires me? Why?

I tell him: "I don't know what I'm doing."

He knows: I'm serving Fettucine Alfredo, kissing boys who don't read books, sleeping mid-day and buying plane tickets to Paris just to see if I can (I can).

"You need to take yourself seriously," he says.

Across the street, The Beacon Theater's back doors extract happy, solid, stable people. Though I suppose they'd probs think the same things we'd been thinking if they'd seen us from their window: "Those people are happy, and know what they're doing."

But we don't.

For the first time since dropping out and moving to the city with Sarah (who has her own room), Ryan and I sleep together in the same bed of our bunkbed. It's a tiny thing, but we sleep like angels. (9)


I think they finished drilling the holes in my sidewalk, finally, so I slept last night.

I'm pretty sure my stomach is lined with something toxic like rubber (and you are glue, which is why everything we both eat bounces off me and sticks to you).

I considered the master cleanse, 'cause I feel like there's just something off inside me, but the way it was described to me made it sound like it'd probs make my ass bleed more than a night at Babylon with Brian Kinney (yeah, I said it). Also I think I said I wanted to do it when Stef did it and Cait said "Don't do it!" and I said, "okay."

I went to the cheap Chinese massage place yesterday, which's like China, only smaller. I was too in the zone to even think about the thin curtains and the other people, the lack of privacy. I honestly just wanted to lie there forever, as it seemed to be the only place on earth that might demand nothing from me. Simply by lying completely still, I was doing my part.

Basically, here's the symptoms: hot flashes, nausea/vomiting, cravings for strange foods, inexplicable breast growth (without the corresponding overall body-growth), sluggishness, moodiness ... possibly I'm preggers, which'd be impossible unless on the off chance that I am, in fact, Marie Magda-Lyn. For all you heathens out there, that's a reference to the Immaculate Conception. Not to be confused with The Immaculate Collection, Madonna's best album.

I like this poem. (10).

quote: "When I think about it like this, I can't help asking myself, "Where is there any logical consistency in the world?" I don't know -- maybe the world has two different kinds of people, and for one kind the world is this completely logical, rice pudding place, and for the other it's all hit-or-miss macaroni gratin. I bet if those tree frog parents of mine put rice pudding mix in the microwave and got macaroni gratin when the bell rang, they'd just tell themselves, 'Oh, we must have put in macaroni gratin by mistake, or they'd take out the macaroni gratin and try to convince themselves, 'This looks like macaroni gratin, but actually it's rice pudding. And if I tried to be nice and explain to them that sometimes, when you put in rice pudding mix, you get macaroni gratin, they would never believe me. They'd probably just get mad." (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles)

1) Facebook Gets Frisky With Your Most Feared "Friends" (@ny observer)
2) Peggy Munson writes a playlist to her poetry book (@largehearted boy)
3) Dan Savage: "I just fucking can't." "At a Loss" (@the stranger)
4) Emily, formerly of Gawker, does an Obituary for Personal Blogs (@guilt & pleasure)
5) Your Guide to Internet Oversharers (@gawker)
6) Babeland says that my story had them at hello, which makes me feel special/glad to be the first story in the book. (@babeland @dirty girls virtual book tour)
7) Converse Turns 100 (@the smart set)
8) Why Does it Take So Long to Grow Up? (@The American Scientist Online)
9) Prologue to "All the Sad Young Literary Men" (@n+1)
10) Embarrassment, by Brenda Shaughnessy (@poems.com)

I was asked to "claim" my profile by posting this link:
Check out my Blogebrity profile!
(Of course, now that I have, I've started caring. Which is surely a symptom of something parasitic.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It's a Top 10 List of Things that Move Me the Most, Bother Me the Most, Scare Me the Most

Leisurely reader: you don't need me to swear that I longed for this blog, born out of my little brain & navel, to be the most smokin' hot baby imaginable, the most purple, the most intelligent and quasi-intellectual. But could I contradict the natural order of things? Like creates like.

So what could my emotional, mediated/oft-intoxicated "wit" give birth to except the history of a hysterical child, over-metabolised, whining, its head stuffed with all kinds of thoughts no one else would even think of, like a girl bred in an emo cave of her own design, where everything grates on your nerves and every new sound (for example the men drilling giant holes on my sidewalk who woke me up this morning), makes you still sadder. Other circumstances (e.g., flying lesbians, L Word character development, fresh fruit, kind awakenings, tranquil spirit) would turn even the most sterile Muses fertile, filling the world with almost-hipsterish, consistent, honest and well-bred offspring. But instead ... we have Auto-Win. Who is here to celebrate.

Yes! Two years ago April 8th, in order to best allow you to make the acquaintance of such a noble/honorable knight, the celebrated Sancho/MLB [not major league baseball or the modern languages building] began writing a blog called "This Girl called Automatic Win." 1

Actually, my motivations for beginning this blog, as I'm sure most of you know by now, isn't related to extolling virtues, it was 'cause my roommate/everything at the time (as in -- "everything a person can be to another person," including best friend & co-worker) (this is a common recipe for disaster) had a blog, and so I wanted a blog too. She had other things I wanted too, like rock-hard abs, black legwarmers, rhythm, a savings account, reasonably sized feet, a functional bicycle and usually a large bag of miniature candy bars. Aside from the legwarmers, which I took and still have, I couldn't have any of those things. But I could have A BLOG! I was very mature then, just as I'm very mature now, and I do not covet, just like Moses told me to. Actually, yeah I do.

[Also I haven't rocked the legwarmers in a while, 'cause I haven't worn a skirt and/or dress in a while, 'cause I have short hair now and I feel like girls with short hair in dresses always remind me of Seasons 1-3 Miranda. Miranda is obvs my favorite SATC character: she's got the best comebacks/one-liners, reminds me of me, and let's face it -- I'm no Charlotte, and Carrie & Samantha are annoying. Howevs, somehow her overall look's always suggested something self-consciously "power-wifey," like the "Before" Nicole Kidman in The Stepford Wives remake or a female newscaster from the early 90's w/shoulderpads or a politician. You know what I mean? Mainly, the thing is that I'm 26, not 46 or even 36. I don't expect to live past 56, so I've gotta harvest my rosebuds while I may, etc.

The point is that starting around Season Four, Cynthia Nixon's undoubtable hotness finally came out of the closet via a new improved haircut that suited her overall look and the format of television itself quite well:

Does everyone get my point? How'd I start talking about Miranda? Oh yes. Skirts --> legwarmers ---> blog.]

So I've been trying to think of a Sunday Top Ten topic that relates to the Second Bloggiversary without being like a VH1 special for myself. Like you know they're just ACHING at VH1 for 2010 so they can start filming "We Love the Aughts." I'd pondered "Top Ten Moments on My Blog of the Last Year," or something equally self-obsessed ... but I did already do a Best of the Top Tens post, and a few Year in Review posts, so really, how much more can I possibly indulge in the self-reflexive navel-gazing related instant nostalgia you've come to expect here at Auto-Win?

OMG, So Much More!!!!

Sunday Top Ten: All The Top Tens I Thought About Writing In Honor of the Bloggiversary, But Then, Obvs Didn't
[Or, "The Soul's Agents"]
[Or, "An Autowin Buffet! Something for Everyone!]

[This post isn't going to flow upon your readership perfectly but I'm hoping, and therefore telling you, that it's worth it.]
[This is a long one.]

"Every night before bed, say for a week, / we recommend admitting a lie / or a deception, sotto voice, a rogue's prayer /
to the soul you know you have, / no matter how tattered or dormant.

Trust us, your secrets differentiate you
from no one, but the soul awakens
a little when it hears them."

10. Thunder Perfect Autowin/ Top 10 Paradoxes

"And if only you could raise / your hypocrisy to the level of art, / like forgery, there might be / real hope for you."
In December, Stef and A;ex did a vlog with us for Cait, who's shoulder wasn't feeling nice. After filming, sitting in the hallway, A;ex said to me, dead serious, re: the vlogging experience: "I thought I'd lost you there for a minute."

That night was the first time I'd declared I wanted to stop vlogging, but I was convinced by my comrades to soldier on. Last week sometime, A;ex and Cait were talking about how truly weird it is -- the way Hav & I change when the camera goes on. Hav's a professional, obvs, but for me I guess it's protection ... a "character," 'cause that open revelation of physicality felt too personal for me. I'd nixed footage from the car on the night Hav met Lozo 'cause it felt too "real," and did attempt to halt "Uh Huh ... Her?" production once too. Thank G-d I didn't, 'cause that prize pack probs has a genie in it, and I hope a few posters/real dolls.

Speaking of "real" dolls ... I'm not sure what the "real" me is ["real" is a problematic term ... "authentic"? "full"?] As my profile suggests, I do not know who I am. I don't know what that means -- it's not that I'm just growing up, it's that I change my mind a lot. It's that until the age of 14, I wanted to be an actress. 'Til 18: filmmaker. Now: marine biologist. JK, I just liked Sea World a lot once.

So now that Haviland's in L.A., why am I still vlogging? Clearly being on camera is more her thing. Well ... follow-through. Is an interest. And it's fun! It's fun now, w/various guest vloggers. But mostly: I la-la-love editing, it's like my number one favorite activity. I like the feedback, it's another way to be "known" in this performance art liveblog known as um, whatever this is. I find it interesting. I love that it's brought new readers/audience, which I didn't expect (for people to watch the vlogs independently from reading this, like that they'd be entertaining enough on their own?). Different circumstances, different formats or media, calls for different attitudes.

And y'know, there's that "lonely little lez in Iowa" ... 'cause I wonder, always, if I'd seen Shane as an adolescent and believed that there were lesbians out there who weren't just like my Mom or her friends, if maybe that would've changed everything.

But also, clearly that is also me, even if it's not all of me. What is the "real me" anyhow? Can it be a lot of things, or is that a lie? I often gravitate towards very specific & self-assured people, maybe 'cause I want clues of how to be so sure of myself, because I'm a Sancho at heart, never a real knight. Childhood and adolescence demands a choice, adulthood I hope offers more freedom.

'Cause paradox, contradiction, inner conflict ... is my bag. Because I am also opposites. Because that's why I feel like I'm always lying, which is consequently why I feel the need. To talk so much. "This is what I just said, but [this] is what I meant." [pause] "No. [this] is what I meant."

To start with, "pop" culture vs. "high" culture. Bisexuality. Like You vs. Like Everyone. Insecure vs. Sure. Smart vs. Vapid. Ambitious vs. Depressive. And so on. I feel howevs that I've possibly discussed this so much that I must've done a Top Ten about it at some point?

9. Top Ten Things I Don't Say, Haven't Said
"Some people of course expect / to be rewarded for stumbling / and rising from the floor / and stumbling again, but we give / no credit for living."

Our culture, now, is very "Behind the Music." This "what can I avoid saying? what do people know anyway?" complex has clear origins: meeting people in 3-D via blog who say "I thought ____ was happening, but I would never have said so, or asked" (and it was) (or wasn't), the occasional succession of questions via comment or email, some interesting reader survey responses, the fact that I feel -- because I read too much into everything myself -- that some things are obvious, that I don't need to say them, but also realize, no-one's paying nearly as much attention as I am (to myself). I've lately started to assume that no-one assumes anything really. Do you?

8. There Are Beautiful Things I Want to Dispose Of [reader suggested topic]
"We favor vitality / over goodness, even over effort;"

Sometimes I obtain books I've already read just to have my own copy. For example, I borrowed "The Year of Magical Thinking" (Joan Didion) from Krista, "I Am Not Myself These Days" (Josh Kilmer-Purcell) from Lo, "Appetites" (Caroline Knapp) from the public library, "Girl" (Blake Nelson) from Kristyna in 10th grade. Then I'll see a copy at a used bookstore and think, well, I'd like to have my own copy. But it has no underlines. Now, I rarely borrow books I intend to return. I haven't forgotten ... I just cracked the spine, dog-eared the pages and possibly also underlined.

I gave up tight jeans about six months ago. I keep them, in case I give up baggy jeans again. History would suggest role reversal could occur at any moment, I'd like to be prepared/budget about it.

Once, my legendary (and presently radio silent) high school soulmate/BFF/everything sold all his clothing and possessions and moved to Africa. I'd like to do that, but maybe stay here. Just to prove that I can. But what if I can't?

I just found a Calvin Klien tag for a push-up bra. $36.00. Underneath the iconic font spelling out "Calvin Klien," handwriting reads: "Aspects of a Theory of Syntax (1957)."

Sometimes people would give me earrings as gifts, though I didn't have my ears pierced. Being female, I guess, was enough.

I have a file in my file folder called "The Way We Were." Some happy, some sad.

7. Top 10 Most Important Autowin Moments since April 8th, 2007
"'we love a great belly laugh / more than anything."

1 be my intern (may 07), 2 breakup (june 07), 3 living it out (july 07),
4 we're alright we're up all night, and y'all emerged from the vortex (august 07)
5 the big reveal (august 07), 6 first vlog (oct. 07)
7 getting fired (deleting my entire blog and then re-posting it) (oct 07),
8 renewal (nov 07)
9 visiting the actual carousel of progress, obvs (feb 08).
10 because i heard from a lot of you i hadn't heard from in a while (march 08).

The problem is, I don't think that's true, I think I'm picking the wrong things and missing things, and even thinking about this list makes my head hurt and then it makes me feel too self-centered anyhow, so I have to stop.

6. Top 10 Things That Have Changed Since April 8th, 2007
"In your case we do worry / there may not be enough / quarrel in you, or enough courage / to acknowledge your worst inclinations."

I live somewhere new now. I'm sick of hearing gunshots all the time. Sometimes I think it'd be easier if I just saw someone get shot, 'cause maybe it's not hearing shots but the sense of impending doom that one day I will see it happen, but then I remember when they shot her up at the hospital, and that it made me so sick/sad that I fell on the floor too, and sobbed, and then they made me leave, and then I realize I couldn't handle witnessing a bullet from a gun, could I. I don't wanna see people go down. What did the hands feel like? and about the hearts. could you feel their hearts beating beneath their chests?

I cut my hair so I'd stop being heckled, so I could pass for a boy in the dark & winter, or at least a lesbian in the light & spring. I no longer purchase unlimited metrocards. There is Tegan & Sara.

Oh ...

I might, in fact, argue: everything, absolutely everything.

"Know that the soul converts them / into tenderness. Nothing pleases it more."

So, I was reading my friend's post about April's cruelty and thought I would like to somehow
write about the concentrated succession of tragedies upon single beings [not referring, here, to a specific being [unfortunately, I am referring to life generally as I know it but also to many specific beings], but I don't know enough grammar to tell you what I mean] without naming tragedies.

5a. And realize this:
That I grew up in a swamp of it (my mother: her parents divorced, her father disappeared, mother died at 14, raised by grandparents who died, her father reappeared, then died, she divorced, her ex-husband died, my father: nothing much, 'til his own. i don't know if that's fair or not, my suspicion is that life isn't). Therefore, wasn't expecting otherwise, necessarily, though I was hoping and still believed -- until about a year ago [a feeling that's grown stronger and stronger still] -- that there was a certain amount of order to be expected. I no longer believe in such things.

All you can do, as a woman once said in a suprisingly wise moment of a vlog, is "just wait for the next joke. So we should just try to laugh and make out as much as possible."

4. Top 10 Things I Talk About But Maybe Shouldn't, Due to Technical Problems, like Actual Lack of Authority
"So next week why not admit / that what Raskolnikov did / has always made you dream?"

Why not admit that I didn't know who Raskolnikov was, so I googled him, and found him on Wikipedia, and, in lieu of ever actually reading Crime & Punishment: yes, I find what he did [according to the good people at Wikipedia] dreamy. It's the dream of being right enough to take an axe to it, right? I often dream of losing my teeth or being inconveniently naked, I still dream in clichè.

This topic I thought of when Slicey (of The L Word Online) asked me how, if I claim to never watch teevee, I know so much about pop culture. I thought I could do a list of things I talk about unknowingly -- shows I've seen 0-6 times but still speak of with authority, like Tila Tequila, The Office, Heroes, Sugar Rush etc. The answer is: I read a lot about pop culture and therefore feel like I know more about it than I do, I watched A LOT of television in the mid-nineties, and the shows that I do know, I KNOW -- The L Word, West Wing, Six Feet Under, My So-Called Life, Queer as Folk, Sex and the City, Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson's Creek. Also I'm compulsive and generally watch entire seasons of one show in one weekend via DVD. Also, I watch TV at the gym, that's how I've seen America's Next Top Model and Tila Tequila.

Also: I don't know, really, actually. I just do? It's just that I rarely sit down and watch, though I guess maybe it's just on sometimes. I really don't know.

3. What Was Life Like Before _____?
"The more you explore yourself / the more you become unrecognizable."

Let me confess: Tinkerbell was an impulse buy. We debated returning Tinkerbell, due to concerns related to value vs. cost. I'm so glad we trusted the impulse. Cait asked a few days ago, "What was life like before Tinkerbell? I can't remember, what did we do?" I think I generally put words in my friends' mouths, instead of Tinkerbell's. If I wanted to hide something I swallowed a capsule like Maria Full of Grace. JK, there's never anything good in Tinkerbell's purse-pouch. Seriously, never.
Even though I was almost always living elsewhere, I still had a room at my Mom's 'til about '02, and the last time I stayed there for long was for about six weeks in the summer of 2000, between living in NYC and moving on to campus at U-Mich. An old friend came over w/a bottle of wine -- a jug, really, and we finished it, and then I hid the empty bottle in this storage bin/headboard which was filled with stuffed animals.

I couldn't put it w/the rest of the recycling. I don't know how I planned to hide it from my mother forever, or what consequences I expected if she'd found it. Sometimes it's hard to remember life pre-21. I guess that's for a lot of reasons. Anyhow, I still do that. I don't know why. Now that I've confessed this, I'll have to stop, 'cause my friends might look in my closet and wonder why there's an empty wine bottle next to the sheets. Then, before they can think about it too hard, they'll be on the ground wondering what large soft object just fell on their head. Srsly don't open the closet.

2. Top 10 Most Important Things to The Very Existence of Autowin

"Remember, we are here to help. / What you decide to keep / from the world, tell us."

Stephen Dunn, Tegan & Sara, my Friends, The L Word, Google Reader & Google Docs, the drink, fourfour, bartleby, commenters, Victor & Maureen.

1. Lucky Numbers: 3, 11, 21, 31, 41, 43
I've been saving this fortune cookie for the end of this blog. That's the kind of thing I'd make up. But I'm not making this up, actually. I've been tempted to crack it open and see right now for hours, in the same way I was always tempted to watch the next episode of TLW I had on disc but didn't, or -- in a former life, a life more reckless than the one I live now -- to be tempted to do the whole gram at once [but did]. [In the same way that writing that gave me a craving strong enough I'd've fulfilled it, if it was in front of me, with its twenty minutes of oblivion all lined up.]
"Some people never have anything except ideas. Go do it"

(Chinese word on the back: WAIT [deng])
"We understand everything / we pass it on."
-Stephen Dunn, "The Soul's Agents"
1 This opening paragraph is from the intro paragraph to Don Quijote, but like if it was Mad Libs. I haven't read DQ [see "4"], but I did read the first 300 or so pages, including the introduction, which this is from, so it's not cheating. I don't, for the record, talk about books I haven't read.