Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Year in Review: Hands Down Totes Rockin' Through The Ides

There's a Calvin and Hobbes book called "The Days Are Just Packed." That's how I feel about most of 2007, but especially March/April/May, which I'm presently trying to Year in Review. I'm having trouble constructing sentences right now; I just spent four days dancing/dodging crazily/clumsily around myself and now the only way I'm able to actually communicate is in emails to Haviland in all-caps. I expected the holidays to be tough, but I was unprepared for what a petulant bratty psychotic weirdo I'd become out here in the heartland. My brother asked me if I found it strange that I was acting like such a secretive agoraphobe when I've got this blog where I'm like "Hiya! Memememememe!" But seriously, I dunno, I really don't think they read this or even know about it. Maybe they do, maybe they're reading it right now. Hi dudes! Love you!

Here's the thing:
Me to Someone: How have you been?
Someone: Well I'm still at [job] and I'm dating [person] and [other person] [got married, had a baby.] You?
Me: Welllll ... in April my then-girlfriend went manic and decided to re-create Don Quixote in real life, I got to be Sancho .... etc etc ... in July I wrote this gay sitcom with a girl I met on the internet and then I went on this gay cruise 'cause my BFF was singing "Mama Who Bore Me" and we did a staged reading of our sitcom on the boat and the girl from Annie read the lead but now we've got this web version and a broadcast thing and we're developing ... etc etc ... in October I got fired for doing drugs and vodka bottles with people from the teevee ... etc etc ... then I didn't leave my room for about six weeks, I built a cave out of bookshelves ... wanna see my boyshorts? They're hot. I'm never doing laundry again, I'm just gonna wear my own merch forevs and evs.

You know? Like, I just don't know what to say. I really don't know what to say. Unlike words, there are no stories I'm able to abbreviate just yet, so I end up just sounding like an asshole.

My aunt and uncle have lived in the same house in rural Ohio for as long as I can remember. At 4 A.M on the 24th I was out there on the backporch with my cousin (the view: endless cornfields, cold, windy, acres) smoking cigarettes and he said, essentially out of nowhere, "You know, I won't judge you, Marie. You can say anything to me, whatever, there's nothing you could say that would change my mind about you being tops, Marie." (Imagine that said in a post-20-beers voice, though.) We'd just spent a few hours watching old videos and discussing our family's attribution of the "genius" label to various cousins at different times (my father was a genius, truly was, we remain awed, want someone to carry it on). It was perfect, him saying that. That was everything to me, even if I didn't say what he was probably getting at to begin with.

I can say people won't accept me for who I am, but that's bullshit, they totes will, I go into everything assuming from the get-go that everyone secretly hates me and seeks to affirm that, but actually maybe they really love me and all my weirdo-dom! Really! Even though we're all! So! Different! I just don't know who I am, and "quirky crazy writer artist girl" seems to be the easiest category to sit inside and speak from.

I took this while driving:

So anyhow! I'm in Somewhere, Ohio in a hotel. The woman at the desk had a lot of flair. I'm kinda emo right now, just a warning. I know that comes as a total surprise after reading the first two paragraphs.

The Year in Review: March



... in which my entire life changed.

WTF 2007 EVENT #2:
Being told I'd have to move out of my apartment, which I loved.

WTF 2007 EVENT #3:
Not selling the book. This is 50% the fault of this book
which came out at the exact wrong time.

K-Lily visited, from Reno, the first weekend in March (which burdened her with the responsibility of playing the "What should my Top Ten be?" game with me all weekend. Our final choice: Top Ten Things You Should Know About Your Friends). I think it was because of her and Tara I even became open to the idea of making real friends on the internet. K-Lily and Tara, both legitimate people with plenty of real-life friends and no deep affiliations to the Star Trek franchise, had plenty of cyber-friends who they'd never met but nevertheless felt super-close to and spoke of with an assumption of legitimacy. Thus, I realised these friendships could matter deeply and that that was okay -- it was possible, or just simply valid. This would end up helping me when later in the summer I couldn't share as much with my 3-D friends as I needed to in order to go on.

On March 8th, OurChart asked for guestbian nominations. Because I always leap at the opportunity to write free stuff for the lesbos, I asked everyone to nominate me, and they totally did, it was awesome, I felt like the super-cool winner of the lesbian Olympics. Wait, that actually exists, doesn't it?

I didn't know what to write about so I suggested writing about bisexual stereotypes/issues and Tara countered that'd be like "making a giant bullseye and putting it on your forehead." We joked I could write about the gayest shit ever instead, which became the Gayest Shit Ever Top Ten, which I must've completely forgotten about when Carly and I put together the Top Ten about all the gay shit that'd be missing from our brill GLBT sitcom, because there's a lot of repeated topics: cats, processing feelings, etc.

I was on fire then! I was falling for this girl, you know? And that became, obvs, my OurChart column: "How I Met the Girl"... I wrote about cyber-sparks and I'm actually totally proud of that essay. I must have written it really fast too. I don't know, like when your world gets totally shook up like mine was then, your mind has to go fast to keep up.

... and just like that. Public. It was the first time since I'd started writing that I'd been open about who I was dating and it felt dangerous and possibly unwise but the material was so beautiful and consequently easy to write about and quickly ... quickly ...

At my first "In the Flesh" reading, I'd met an editor at [redacted] magazine and he called on March 13th about the possibility of replacing their long-time sex&dating columnist. I said we could talk about it, 'cause I knew it'd be a fantastic opportunity, but I'd essentially have to lie about everything since I'd just sort of stopped dating like, that week. Not like I'd been dating. But you know what I mean, whatevs. A few days later he called and gave me my first major unsolicited magazine article assignment of all time. 3,000 words. $1/word. Seven days of my "crazy bisexual life," like Chapter 11 of my book which he'd really liked. [Chapter 11, not to be confused with bankruptcy, was about the one week of 2005 that I actually went out a lot]

But I don't have a crazy bisexual life anymore, I wanted to say. Instead of saying that, I figured I'd just lie, but my bad habit of lying and "lying about a fact to get at an emotional truth" was already tricky ground w/r/t my book -- my agent had already expressed concern that I was gonna have to come clean about a lot of serious skeletons if I did a straight memoir, which is what all the editors wanted me to do, we were finding out as they rejected the half non-fiction angle one by one. James Frey, that asshole, fucking it up for us all. So there was that too: if I lied for the magazine, then would I have to tell the same lies in my book? There were already so many I was trying to navigate then ... "'I can't imagine anyone caring enough about my little book to go on CNN and say I [fill in unimaginable acts here], like it's not like I'm going to be on teevee or something." My agent said, No, you are. This is going to be big, if we do it right.

[Now: I believe that is true. Then: unreal.]

And so I thought this would be good practice: with honesty.

The ides of March. I figured I had a book deal more-or-less, I had this big magazine article -- it'd be okay then to quit my job though I had about $500 to my name. [redacted] magazine was covering my expenses. As soon as I finished the article, I'd get a 9-to-5 that fit me better than my old gig. So I quit.

I think March 15th was the official "first night" of the article, the "Seven Days of Dates" (with the same person??) thingie. There was a Shortbus DVD release party, that weekend Tara and her friend had a joint b-day party. I recall a randomized snowstorm and hopping through it, giddy about love and everything.

March 17th, my real journal: "It is amazing how many hours truly occupy a single day. It is remarkable that we bear it at all."

Sunday, March the 18th I wrote on Reasons to Drink During the Daytime -- it was St. Patrick's Day and my girlfriend's birthday. She drank a lot then, eventually she'd drink even more than that, and then even more, and so eventually I'd start flirting with purposeless daytime drinking from time to time, too.

But also I was learning -- through The L Word recaps (obvs I was trashed for 95% of L Word viewings, it is almost completely unbearable to watch sober) and then through this sort of occasional mid-afternoon buzz -- that intoxication does not inhibit my ability to write. I totally did not need to know that about myself. Like when I learned I could take six Vicodin and still drive a car.

So, March the 18th: we had a house meeting, I was told I'd be moving out because my roommate's BFF was moving in from California. I cried like I'd been voted off Tila Tequilla ... fo'reals, I loved that apartment and its location. I loved Maggie and we'd totally been through it together. I didn't want to go. Everything just felt uneasy: in flux. And I'd quit my job on the assumption that I'd be fine as long as no major unexpected expenses occurred out of nowhere ... like moving.

I was totally like "I am not gonna tell Tara, it's her birthday, no bad news today," but I think I told her about twenty minutes into lunch. My eyes were kinda puffy. It was a really beautiful birthday, holla. Later that day, Tara'd meet Haviland and see The L Word for the first time ever ... [the episode in which Henry clipped his toenails henceforth ruining my life forever] ... and this was all (gonna be we thought) immortalized in a magazine article that was making both of us process my feelings and analyze too quickly, and it wasn't until it was over and got killed that we realised how much that had affected everything. But then we still thought all kinds of good things that had started would continue like they'd been, so who cares, you know? Back then, everything just felt on fire, but not like fire that burns things or minds, just the kind of fire that lights the sky.

In the first post that Haviland admitted she didn't read (it was about food, her least favorite topic):

French Fries
NY Mag said: The Farm on Adderley (1108 Cortelyou Rd. Ditmars Park, Brooklyn)

I say: Arby's. (National Chain)
Hands down totes Arby's. I can never even decide: homestyle or curly? They are both delicious, but in totally different ways. You know, like men and women. That being said, I usually chose curly fries. I think they are just more emotionally complex.
AND ...

Tara's comment:
i. Providing gmail sponsored link context for my epigraph:

"Free Trade Purses
Gorgeous Purses made by girls in Cambodia.
You win. They win. $19.99

We all automatically win. Yay child labor!"

"Hands down totes Arby's" is my new battle-cry. Love that sentence construction; it made my night. Totes.

Hands Down Totes: An enthusiastic endorsement of something that seems very obvs to you.
I Win. You Win. We All Auto-Win: A [hopefully] adorable way of saying this is good for me and also good for you!

"I don't want to be in flux anymore. I am very tired. I want rest and respite." (my real journal, 3-18)

See, I'm still on March 18th. That's how the days had started to go, by April I felt we'd been together for years.

And March 25th ... finally (finally!) The L Word's season finale. [redacted] magazine sponsored the party. Ironically, when I did get reiumbursed for my article-induced expenses, I didn't apply it to cover the credit card bills I'd racked up for the magazine ... I had to use it to pay rent.

We go through draft after draft. (I talked about this more in August, when I decided just to publish the article on my blog.) Heather, Craig, Sherri and I go to see The View and Havi in her little adrogynous get-up, it was awesome.

I had to start looking for a place. In that post, in which I detail what I want in an apartment based entirely on fictional apartments I'd liked in movies, I say that I did find a place but actually that fell through. Anyhow, I thought my head might explode and sometimes I'd feel like I was running so fast I couldn't breathe, like I was so alive I might just explode. Not exploding was so hard I could barely do anything besides that.

Tara and I fantasized about the end of it all -- the end of the article madness, the apartment thing, my employment flux. We're also both kinda hermits and loners and so all that socialising was like, weird. We wanted to just lie around, gaze into each other's eyes and have feelings like real lesbos.

So hm. By the end of March, I was like, 95% certain that the article'd get published. They were sending a photographer and everything. The book was totes rejected and I was supposed to re-work it as a straight memoir, that's what everyone wanted, lots of interest, and I thought I'd do that super-quick and we'd be onwards into book deal land: still haven't done it. The L Word thing happened, the OurChart thing happened, like everything was marching happily forward!

You know what: seriously, March kinda rocked. I mean, knowing now that the article wouldn't be published, it rocks less, but I was totally like, walking on air then: I was in love and my writing was getting better and consequently, becoming something I could do for a living.

Go March! Best Month Ever! Because that is the month! In which this happened!

That's the greatest thing to happen to the human ass since the invention of Auto-Straddle boyshorts, which actually came later. But whatevs, I love time travel.


morgan! said...

i was just checking the blog and then i refreshed and there was a new entry.
this is like a dream come true.
it's like we have a connection.

dorothy said...

March is when I found this blog. My heart was breaking and the only thing that I could think to do was disappear into cyber-world where there were no real feelings. Shock me, shock me, shock me- I found lots of feelings.

El N said...

endless cornfields, cold, windy, acres

Win, I would have given anything for this..

Sometimes you gotta strip it all bare before you can rebuild. That's what I like about the Midwest, it's all barren and empty and you are who you are. Can't hide out there, the land won't let you. If it makes you feel any better, Christmas was as blue for me..

Lozo said...

i ask, and you deliver. this was like a surprise massage with a sneak-attack happy ending after a long boring day. towel, please!

The Spaz said...

I think I found your blog in May. Or at least I remember breaking up with my ex back then that prompted my first comment here. Although I'm thinking there was a period of lurkitude before this, funny how time runs together after a while isn't it? I blinked and we're almost in aught eight...

caittttt said...

boooo this was beautiful, much like your soul. sometimes i forget in all the vodka bottle jokes that you can still rock it out like no one else and this is why you're going to write the best book ever, yes?

stef said...

wait wait wait, there's a finale party too? oh fuck you guys, i'm going to the american gladiators party.

word veri: oxxmnoq. i don't know what it means, but i like saying it out loud.

Anonymous said...

So I don't know you but I kinda do and I think your amazing. I love to come to your blog to see if you wrote anything new!

asher said...

you really don't know drugs.

i just read your apartment hunting post from back in the day. in igby goes down amanda peet was strung out on heroin.

glad you posted this - i was beginning to have auto-withdrawal.

riese said...

morgan! We do have a connection, because you share your name with the protagonist of "Living it Out," the best gay sitcom ever written! xo!
dorothy: Thank you for staying, yeah? When my heart broke I disappeared into cyber-world too. And people like you were totally here, like whats up, and I was like, yay!

el n: I think I discovered you in early 07, I used 'strai' for the Strai-est shit ever. And yes, it does make me feel better ... the only thing more barren then cold windy acres is those same anchors without the follow-that-bird montage hopefulness that someone else is looking at a similar landscape with a similar state of mind.

lozo: See, when you ask nicely, I'll do what I can to remind you that you've got the ability to come on command, and I've got the ability to provide requisite warm towel, obvs.

the spaz: I think I'm going to change my banner to include "this is a good blog to get involved with while going through a bad breakup." I cannot wait for 08...

caitttttt: yes, yes, totally, everything's gonna be fine, i'm gonna write the best book ever, it's gonna be the best book ever.

stef: Obvs a finale party. That one's better, because it's like a real celebration of something annoying being over, instead of a celebration about something annoying getting started.

anonymous: And I did! You can use the towel when Lozo's done with it.

asher: Proof #108 that I am not a drug addict, I don't even know my heroin from my coke! I thought heroin involved track marks, like in Gia?

Crystal said...

I may have already mentioned this 100 or so times in passing - that ourchart essay was amazing, you should be proud of it. I've read it numerous times over the year, I think it's even how I found my way to this blog. I'm also kinda happy you decided the internet friend thing was valid, I feel this maybe worked in my favour.

a;ex said...

LOL time travel!

I love every word of this. Whomevs said the thing about withdrawl - I concur.

AK said...

I got here in February so was totally here for March. Following you through this time was an amazing experience that changed forever the way I thought about the internet, not to mention friends on the internet.

I made my best-friend-of-Cunningham friend look at the entry where you show apartments from movies you liked. (She told me the apartment in The Hours was actually in London.)

Even though the L Word was wanking me from a different pole than your crowd, being a Jodi fan (and I continue to feel so uncool not being completely smitten by Shane), yours was still the only commentary that put the proper perspective on this flawed show and made it bearable. Being drunk might help too, but I'm a masochist; I take it straight on, that's why I need autostraddle to repair the damage.

Funny about editors not wanting you to lie in a memoir. My publisher is worried that we're going to get sued because mine reveals long hidden family skeletons and in Asia they can sue for loss of face! Writers there hardly dare to use their own names.

Jaime said...

Awesome post, to which I have nothing insightful to say. Do you have the rest of that Tony Kushner letter, or just that quote? Good god I love that man.

anonymous rieseophant said...

writing and honesty. fuck, that's tough shit. i'm grappling with it now -- actually, i'm ignoring it now in mine own bookish thingy. i keep thinking, what the hell will my mother say?

anyway, you go. go far.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe your book lost out to that retard's book. Lesbianism as a political statement against patriarchal hegemony? How gay is that?
"Yeah, I'm pissed at all the dudes running things. I know, I'll go down on this chick and that'll make 'em mad! Yay, women!" No stereotypes reinforced there.
I know your book would be better, or at least not set back gay women's rights by, like, thirty years.
Looking forward to another year of great writing, Riese. Thanks.
-- Katie from Cincinnati

Haviland Stillwell said...

I feel like March was about 10 years ago! I also remember it being so cold - a different place, a different time...

riese said...

Crystal: It's okay, I have a high tolerance level for flattery. And Yes, in your favour, and consequently, in mine. See what I did there? I put the "u" back in favour. That's right: u. Crystal. U.

a;ex: Withdrawl, yeah? Have I turned you into a drug addict already? Auto-corruption.

AK:It is your love of Jodi and your love of Jodi only that stops me from being really mean to Jodi in my recaps. Mostly I'm just annoyed now about Marlee Matlin's Hollywood diet. I'm sure I'll have 2-10 cents to share on that topic come January. Haviland is also not smitten by Shane, soooo there ya go, and she is cool if anyone is cool.

I can change names -- have to change names, in order to prevent slander. But the rest of it has to be true now, because simply being un-true is enough to have people on your ass, and this is 100% because of James Frey, that moron, who i hate.

And what you say about "following you through this time was an amazing experience that changed forever the way I thought about the internet," is fucking awesome. I agree. about myself. Ha.

Jaime: My old roomie Krista had a piece of that quote on her stickies on her desktop, and then I tracked it down as mentioned in a New Yorker article here.

anonymous riesophant: Yeah, I'm thinking what the hell will my mother say about what I say about my mother?

katie from cincinnati: Yeah, the timing was impeccable -- hers was getting buzz/coming out just as mine was circulating, therefore officially saturating the market -- I couldn't even bring myself to read it because i thought it would fuck with my thought proccess and make me seethe a lot. But every time someone reads it and tells me they hate it, my heart warms with the ember coals of my jealousy and ire. Holla! My book's gonna be better the way we're doing it now, so I'm at peace with it. Anyhow, thank you for validating me.

Haviland Stillwell: There's a Tegan & Sara song called 'Are You Ten Years Ago?' I love it. One part of it goes like this: I am taken I am yours, I am up and doing circles, I collapse: this life looks like a sentence, so a constant game of falling short, if you know you know, when i feel like this when i'm just so sick of feeling less than perfect isn't right for me and if i'm to see if coming clean would get to me i feel myself holding back I feel the pressure it's finally back I'm taken, when you felt like this when you saw it all come crashing subtle but not underground, i was there i saw the signs i saw unfair and so i write to you through other means i let myself finally feel taken, like i was yours

The Brooklyn Boy said...

Hands down totes gets a TBB seal of approval. As do most things auto-win. This carries meaningful weight, I promise.

The Brooklyn Boy said...

Hey ... I just saw you commented just before I did, and used "Are You 10 Years Ago?" which is my hands down totes fav T&S jam. Or at least was the first one I was mega into.

AK said...

Marlee Matlin's Hollywood Diet!?! You get all the good stuff. But I agree, all this body image crap is why we gotta steer clear of LA. It's wretched down there. Much better here in the SF Bay Area where we actually read books and go to plays and have the country's largest population of witches. (OK, that's just hyperbole, not fact checked).

I am touched that you restrain yourself with Jodi on my behalf. Totes am. I can see there would be lots of material there. I think your imitations of her are cute though. Reminds me of when we used to do Jodi Foster's Nell voice.

My respect for Haviland grows with every shadow revelation thus she still comes across on autowin as a sort of bottled genie or a signature perfume—an electric current with which you plug and play any device. In other words who is Haviland really? Oh right, you said already. She's a brand. So who is the Haviland brand L Word character, if any?

Haviland Stillwell said...

AK, you are lovely.

Anonymous said...