Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Friday, October 31, 2003

Failure of the Day: Weather, politics, nicotine, I mean, not nicotine

Well, alright, yes, it’s Halloween but the only way I know that for sure is that after a week of temperatures that tantalized 9 year olds into thinking that they will be able to go out trick or treating without a coat over their costumes, today it is cold and raining, as it always is, and everybody has to wear a jacket, damnit.

What I’m really doing today though is very, very belatedly getting up to snuff on the mayoral election next week. I’m usually rabid about it (lord knows I was in ’99, and I lived in Seattle during that election), but this year, there’s a strange hybrid between total apathy and a gawdawful pileup of candidates, most if not all (if that’s even possible) the candidates are more or less lefty spoilers. And the trouble is, you can’t tell the spoilers from the spoilee. Except for Alioto, who has spent her entire political career as a spoiler (remember Agnos and Jordan? I do).

Of Ammiano and Gonzalez, it seems clear that the latter is the spoiler, but only if you accept the premise that Tom can’t beat Newsom in the runoff. Which actually might be true, to my great sadness. My problem with Gonzalez is both his tendency to attack Ammiano instead of Newsom and his party affiliation—Green. As a general rule, I’d sooner flay myself with a rusty tuna can lid than support that party that is all to happy to embrace a philosophy of “things have to get worse before they can get better,” especially since it doesn’t get worse for them but only for other people.

But I tell you what: if the guy I like best can’t win, I’d just as soon not vote for him if a vote for him helps usher in the guy I absolutely don’t want. Call me crazy, but I think my second choice is preferable to my last choice. And I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t stick by that in this election. Trouble is, that might mean (and I’m not certain yet but it’s looking like it) that I will wind up voting for Gonzalez.

Again: I sometimes wish irony weren't so damn ironic.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Failure of the Day: Not Talking about Not Smoking

Seriously. Let’s talk about something else for a while.

So, it’s NaNo season day after tomorrow, and despite swearing for damn near 8 months that I would in no way be participating again, I’m fixin to hurl 50,000 words into a Word document in 30 days again. It won’t be pretty, and I have no aspirations for this years effort except that it might, when I’m done, be a useful stewpot of filler to plug up some of the holes in last year’s NaNovel.

Despite that, I managed to come up with a title that I adore: “Variations on a Fist.” Here’s the premise:

A woman believes herself to be a crippled, unmarried smoker despite the fact that she can walk, has a husband, and doesn’t smoke: Discuss.

Otherwise known as a potpourri of the dregs of my identity issues, which have now grown so thin that I need to use all three at once to fill 175 double-spaced pages. To what extent is that a good thing? To what extent is that a bad thing? Discuss.

The title, by the way, came from the ASL alphabet. The M and the S are both fists; the only thing that changes is where you put your thumb. Which I thought was cool, anyway.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Failure of the Day: The Analogy Phase of Habit Abatement

I might have figured out the best way to describe life after cigarettes. It’s like comparing the current season of the West Wing to the first one. It looks more or less the same, but some part of its essence is missing. It’s not just that nobody says anything interesting anymore and the characters mostly brood about things rather than articulate their thoughts—no, it’s more like you can see the actors underneath the characters being aware of the loss.

But before that starts to sound too depressing, the analogy also works because it’s just a TV show, and just an hour a week. Yes, I think that’s just about right, quitting smoking is like your favorite TV show not being cancelled but just losing the thing the you love about it. And it sucks for that hour of your week, that part of your life that gets affected but for the other hours of your life, eventually, things normalize.

Of course sometimes you really, really want to watch the old-timey West Wing…nothing would be better than rolling a big fat episode of the West Wing and lighting it and sucking all the goodness into you…but all you’ve got are the repeats on Bravo, those pathetic nicotine patches. But we all make do.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Failure of the Day: Hello?

Hey, so, I think I'm OK. The first 4 days were the worst so far, and the last 4 days have been OK. I still want a cigarette (or 4000) but the uncontrollable sobbing seems to have passed. I'm not nearly as sad as I was; I feel morel like myself. I even lowered the dose on my nicotine patch from 21 to 14 mg.

Of course, part of me goes "I'm doing such a good job of not smoking, I deserve a cigarette as a reward!" I keep trying to trick Chris:

Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Can I have a cigarette?
Damnit! You're just too wily for me!

I still can't imagine myself as a non-smoker but that seems to be OK as well because I don't so much have to imagine it…I just have to keep not smoking.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Failure of the Day: 4 Down; 10 To Go

Bucky says the sensation of sadness and the impression that life is meaningless is a construct of my hunger. He says it's a kind of counter attack staged by my addiction: if it can't get me physically, it'll get me emotionally.

For the record, I trust him 100% on this, and not just because I like that idea very much and it makes me feel better to believe it.

He also says I will start to feel better in about 2 weeks. I'm OK with that, too—one thing I know about myself is that I can deal with just about anything as long as I know it's finite. That's not so much to ask, really, just that life as merely a grim endurance test ends at some point, right?

I swear to god I'm not intending to be such a downer. I keep thinking I'll write something a little bit funny or something. It hasn't exactly worked out that way, at least not this week, and ditto for keeping up my half of a conversation without getting irritable and snippy or too gloomy to deal with. So I'm eschewing the telephone completely I'm laying off email too. I'll put up a new blog entry when I'm a little less morose.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Failure of the Day: Morrissey Rainbow

Today I am less captive to the howling cravings and more interested in finding exactly the right words to describe my misery. I did a pretty good job in an e-mail I sent this morning:

I am many, many shades of glum and no fun; I am a Morrissey rainbow. I am the burning bag of dogshit on your front porch. Please, please stomp me out.

Chris is of course a trooper, remaining supportive as he does even after a long day of work when he has to come home to wife who bursts into tears after every meal. I expect that will pass…in about 2005. Until then, it looks like the world will remain a meaningless and empty husk of its former self. And don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Failure of the Day: Fuckity fuckity fuck fuck

I want a fucking cigarette. Closing out fucking day 2, I am fucking begging for fucking death.

Fucking sucks. I am not even fucking functional without a fucking toothpick sticking out of my fucking mouth at all fucking times. It's a fucking pacifier is what it is, except I am not feeling particularly fucking pacified at ALL. A slow fucking torturous death from fucking lung cancer is looking pretty fucking sweet right now, and I'm pretty fucking sure it would fucking go by faster than this fucking shit. And sure, that's a fucked up alternative to Chris, but after a couple of fucking weeks with me like this, what do you want to fucking bet he will start to see its appeal.


Saturday, October 11, 2003

Failure of the Day: tick…tick…tick

Well, here we are, in my final hour as a smoker. Fare thee well, delicious white poison! I will miss you but hopefully not for inordinately long.

Let's call it cautious optimism, this confidence that at this time tomorrow I won't have scabby bald spots on my head and blood under my fingernails. This is a 20 year habit I'm fixin' to abate here, after all, and all the while being faced with the fact that the authors of my two favorite novels on the earth are unrepentant, joyous smokers. Ah, but that is just the periphery and I can't feel authorial kinship with M's Amis and Vonnegut any more than I can with Nicholson Baker and John Updike just because they both have psoriasis.

But that, I suppose, is the magic of Zyban, which, I now believe, doesn't make quitting smoking easy, it merely makes it possible. And that will have to do, won't it? Because short of a medically induced, two-month detox coma, this is as good as it's gonna get.

45 minutes…wish me luck, y'all.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Failure of the Day: Birth

Well, yeah. Hoo boy. That election knocked the wind (and the blog entries) right out of me. I have been pouting for a couple of days but I have to stop or I'll ruin my birthday for Chris, who loves my birthday far more than I ever did, even when I was a wee tot, I think.

Speaking of which, I was, just after typing the above paragraph and just before typing this one, brought out to the hall where I was shown the TWELVE birthday presents he got me but that I can't open until tomorrow. And there's still the three from his mom. Have I mentioned how cool his mom is? I told her that I would be sucking on a lot of red vines when I quit smoking day after tomorrow, so she just sent me four pounds of them in a big bucket.

I still don't know what we'll be doing tomorrow or where we'll have dinner but I imagine I'll think of something.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Failure of the Day: Democracy

That's a pretty literal header for a change, because today truly represents a failure of democracy. That a tiny fraction of the population, most of whom did not vote in last election and were in fact paid to sign the damn petition, can overthrow a duly-elected governor who has committed no crimes, strikes me as a horrendous assault on the principles we're all supposed to hold so dear. And that the winner of this election will likely be the person who got the 2nd most votes has to be some form of treason.

I'm not the most patriotic girl in the world by a longshot and there is no shortage of things about this country that repulse and appall me, but the ideal at the core isn't one of them. And isn't the entire crux of democracy holding fair elections? If Davis is recalled, this will make the second time right-wing zealots have used obscure and/or antiquated "laws" to utterly debase the notion of fair elections.

There are plenty of ways to corrupt how votes are secured by candidates. Plus there's voter fraud and ballot box stuffing and the like. You'd think that would be enough; you know, you'd really think that with all those tricks they wouldn't need to get any dirtier. But they did, they figured out a way to corrupt that simplest of ideas: who ever gets the most votes wins.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Failure of the Day: Gaping Wounds

So, um, when did Siegfried & Roy become newsworthy? Did I miss a memo? Because the last I heard, we had all collectively agreed that they only existed as a shorthand punch line in homophobic jokes.

But OK, I grant you that the only way this story could possibly have been more MSNBC-ready was if some yahoo had filmed the whole thing and made a fortune selling the footage. And sure, there are people who really want to know about tigers mauling heavily coiffed fops, and cable news needs to keep them satisfied. I understand that. But what's with the candlelight vigils and weeping Las Vegas stagehands putting on the brave face for Wolf Blitzer? And for three goddamn days already?

Honestly, I can muster up some sympathy for almost anybody who is at this moment still being digested by an endangered tiger. But c'mon…is anybody surprised? It's like when those circus elephants occasionally are overcome by the need to rub some bystander jelly between their toes. Who doesn't root for elephant (other than the bystanders)? But no, we have to spend days and days being surprised that a damn tiger went and attacked something. Jeez, you'd think it were a predator or something.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Failure of the Day: Glengarry Glen Park

I occasionally think that someday, I will own a house. It seems laughably unlikely right now considering that we've been married for almost 2 years and have yet to get it together enough to so much as open a joint checking account, but it wasn't that long ago that typing the phrase "married for almost 2 years" seemed laughably unlikely, so there you go.

And sometimes I go ahead and run with the house-owning idea, so I try to imagine just what it might look like and where it might be located. And since we're in fantasyland already, I decide that the house could very well be in San Francisco. But where?

Now, I love the Richmond; I do. I've lived here for 12 of the last 15 years. But I'm not sure this is the neighborhood. It's just so dang far away from the freeways! So I go neighborhood shopping and I invariably come up with two contenders: Bernal Heights and Glen Park. These are purely theoretical contenders considering that I've set foot in Bernal Heights a total of four times in my life and I've never to my knowledge even been to Glen Park at all. But I hear it's, y'know, nice.

And these are heady times for me to begin with, as I begin to act on my brand new infant belief that I may indeed have something like a future after all so I might want to quit shoving poison down it's little baby throat and all. So who knows? Maybe one of these days I'll figure out which bus goes to Glen Park and have me a little lookaround.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Failure of the Day: I am The Ruiner

At a bit of a loss as to what to write today, I asked Chris and he said to write about how I ruined the one fun thing he tried to do today. And that's better than writing something about the Recall, which I was strongly considering.

Chris has this thing that he likes to do when he is leaving my room. When he closes the door behind him, he gives the knob a little jiggle so it sounds like he has locked me in. Of course, my door doesn't lock from the outside, so when I go to turn the knob and open the door, he likes to grip the knob and lean all his weight into keeping the door shut. It's locked, see? It's what you call a regular laugh riot. Hilarity ensues.

Tonight, after he "locked" me in, I got distracted by my bookshelf. And so I didn't try to open my door. After about 3 minutes, a very dejected Chris poked his head in my room and asked a heartbreaking "Heeeey…What's going on?"

"Shoot," I say, "I didn't try to open the door! I'm sorry! I ruined your fun!"

"Yeah, and it's the only fun thing I got to do all the live long day, and you ruined it! You are the Ruiner." And he hung his head and took teeny little steps out of my room. As soon as he closed the door, I tried to open it, but the knob turned and the door swung open. And there was Chris, his chin on his chest, slowly making his way down the hall muttering, "Sure sure but it's too late now…

So it's true: I am the Ruiner.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Failure of the Day: There, Now; That's Better

Ooooh! October already! That's exciting! All manner of things to gear up for: NaNo, my birthday, and the End of Cigarette Days. To the end of gearing up, I have done almost exactly nothing. I have done an admirable job finally metabolizing Zyban in such a way that I'm not the world's least hip tweaker, so I guess that's something.

Pretty soon I'll need to settle in and outline this year's NaNo project, but I'm still not exactly sure what I'll write about. I have a feeling it doesn't matter what I decide to write about; what I'll really end up writing about will be cigarettes. The main requirement of Muses, I think, is that they be absent.

I don't have to actually do anything for my birthday except pick a restaurant. But that's not so easy these days. I'm not worried about breaking my diet because it's my birthday for christsake, and I'll do what I damn well please, but I have no idea if I'll be hungry by then. I haven't been hungry since I started the Zyban, and sure, that's been very convenient for me this week but it can't last forever right? I'll have to eat something eventually. (It's not actually true that I haven't eaten at all; it's more like every once and a while I remember that I like Rice Krispies, so I have some.)

But you know what freaks me out now? Pretty soon, this will be true: I don't drink, don't smoke, don't do drugs, and don't sleep around. Don't I sound just awful?