Hello, Failure

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Failure of the Day: Chapel Perilous, again

You’d think I’d learn: There are no doors out of the chapel. Even if you find the one marked Exit, you can bet it doesn’t lead anywhere you want to go.

Now, it turns out that I am a reasonably strong person, so although all I really want to do is dig a hole big enough for me and Chris, climb in, and never be heard from again, what I am actually going to do is keep editing this chapter. And I’m going to keep fielding phone calls from people who sound exactly like me because it is the courteous thing to do, and I’m going to keep going to the gym because there is nothing else to be done.

Fuck you, chapel perilous. I’m settling in. I’ll paint the place green and some curtain would look nice right there. I did it once and I’ll do it again.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Failure of the Day: “Hey, Vikings!”

That’s what it said in the email salutation. I myself am not a Viking and have never, y’know, identified as a Viking, yet there it is: an email addressing me as such.

It gets worse—postings to the classmates.com message board by my fellow alumnus say things like “bring photo’s” because as we were all taught in school, the main use for an apostrophe is to warn the unsuspecting reader that a word is about to become plural.

It gets worse—although my high school is a mere 35 miles from San Francisco, the reunion is being held in Milpitas. My high school itself isn’t in Milpitas—they’re having the reunion in a city other than the one where my high school is located, and that’s the city they chose. I haven’t been to Milpitas in some 20 years, but unless they moved the giant sewage treatment facility located there, it’s probably still not what you’d call a top-of-the-line destination.

It gets worse—the woman organizing the reunion (let’s call her “Trixie”) is dead set on making it a 2-day event culminating in a Sunday picnic so that everyone might intermingle their children in broad daylight. Trixie is holding the picnic in the park across the street from our high school. The park has the same name as our high school, and we all made our way to that high school every day for 4 years, and we all got stoned in that park every day for 4 years, and yet Trixie felt it necessary to reassure us that she will have balloons to help us find the picnic. She posted a special note to let us know about the balloons.

It gets worse—With this amount of to-do, surely the reunion must be imminent! And yet, it is 8 months away.

It gets worse—I’m still going to go. And with god as my witness, I don’t know why.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Failure of the Day: Subconscious

Seriously, the dreams I’ve been having this week are completely out of hand. You’d think I was back on the nicotine patch. (Did you know that the patch really fucks up your dreams? There’s even a warning on the box that says if the dreams get too intense while you’re on the patch it’s OK to stop wearing it at night. But doing that seemed like a pretty direct route to some hellish mornings, and in my own personal arithmetic, I’d rather sleep through hell than wake up to it.)

Last night I dreamed I was at a bar in Seattle called the 6 Arms. The 2002 NaNoWriMo beginning and end parties were held there, and in my dream, I was having a NaNo group meeting. There were several people sitting around a big wood table discussing the mosaic novel were going to write together for NaNo (which, c’mon, is already a pretty great idea: 6 people working on one 300k word novel).

Here was my idea for the mosaic novel:

A gang of superheroes (each one would be penned by a different member of the group) made up of parallel universe Frank Sinatras. You’ve got your female Frank Sinatra and your black Frank Sinatra and your queer Frank Sinatra and so on. The Super Sinatras home base is in the Mount Rushmore area, where their super powers are fueled by the collective rage of indigenous peoples all over the world.

Everybody in my dream totally hated the idea and said it was “too obvious.” I kinda like it though.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Failure of the Day: Tut Tut, Chin Up, and All That

I am desperate to move to New Hampshire now. I once dated a guy from New Hampshire and I would infuriate him by continually referring to it as “one of those dot states in the corner.” I had an ongoing bet with him that no matter who we stopped on the street and asked, no one would be able to name the capitol of New Hampshire. We stopped scores of people during the time we knew each other and never found a single soul who could name any city in New Hampshire, let alone the capitol.

But now I am full of rue! I love New Hampshire! I want to move there and have a baby right away so that someone in my family would actually be from New Hampshire. And sure, all the politicos would come over every day during election years and make my breakfast but that’s not why, that’s not why! OK, maybe it IS why but really is that so wrong?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Failure of the Day: For Realsies

Not a good day.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Failure of the Day: Misc, Weird

CNN just used Television’s “Prove It” as background music.

Peyton Manning is my personal enemy.

I am kind of susceptible to TV; maybe more than usual. I spent much of this weekend thinking that maybe we should move to Iowa. I would register as an independent and get positively drunk on political power every 4 years. And I could totally talk Chris into it on account of Captain Kirk being born there.

I watched the movie Amélie for the first time on Friday and it totally changed the kind of shoes I’ve been in the mood to wear.

Does anyone know of a way to make tea frothy? I don’t like coffee but the froth of those fancy drinks really appeals to me.

My ongoing attempt to start drinking fails again: the bottle of liquor-in mudslide I bought tastes exactly like the ear infection medicine I had when I was 6.

A Tale of Two Johns Redux: I still think John Edwards is only angling for the VP slot despite the surprising finish. But I tell you what: Iowa’s looking better and better to me—a place that would give a guy the 2nd place ribbon for not a lot more than just unfailing courtesy is my kinda state.

I had a dream last night that I got all my hair cut off and it wound up looking like the black guy on CSI. It was NOT a good look for me. But like the recurring dream I have about all my teeth falling out, I know it is just a symbol representing my rapidly receding attractiveness. But as ever, my attractiveness is based largely if not solely in my hair. So dig it: My hair, in the dream, was a metaphor for my hair.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Failure of the Day: Travel (apologies to Jeff)

In my never-ending quest to add to my roster of clients and possibly work myself to death, I sent this off today to a posting for a travel editor I saw on the Gawker.

I hate traveling. Oh, there’s a good idea: let’s pay a week’s rent per night to sleep on a mattress that, if you saw it at home, you wouldn’t get close enough to poke it with a stick. And what kind of authentic cultural experience do you think you can get in six days and five nights? This kind: My friend went to Prague and immediately found a video game arcade where he spent the day dodging an 11 year old prostitute and her menacing 13 year old pimp. Traveling sucks. It’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, expensive, and almost always anti-climactic.

You know what’s nice? Not wondering if I’m taking my life in my hands if I order the shellfish. You know where I can do that? At HOME.

Seems to me that there had better be something pretty fucking great about a place if I’m going to put up with all that crap. Yeah yeah yeah, you saw Big Ben/the Grand Canyon/the Great Wall or some other thing they have to convince you is impressive by using a variation of the word “large” in its name. It’s all just rocks in some shape or another.

Here’s what’s missing in the travel world: What makes it worth the trouble? What makes it worth the head lice and dysentery and constant need to apologize for your country’s foreign policy? If an article can convince me it's worth it, you might have a winner.

Nancy Depper
Freelance editor

What do you think...will they hire me?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Failure of the Day: My Taste, Unchecked

I think this is where the truth, ugly or fine, will finally become clear. Greenhaven (AKA my room) is done. I got what I needed from Ikea and now Greenhaven is really, really green. And I mean very green, everywhere you look. From the living room, you can see a green glow slipping out from under my door. Plus, now you don’t have to sit on the floor.

I love it. It is cozy and delightful and weird and comfortable. But it brings back a train of thought I usually only have under nitrous oxide…is there such a thing as “good” taste and “bad” taste? I mean, objectively? What confuses me is that I don’t believe in objectivity, like, at all, but at the same time, it does seems like some things just really are in poor taste.

Now, I’m no arbiter of these things (except, you know, to the extent that I am) so (and because my brain is a world class pain in the ass) now that I’ve finally realized my dream of a 100% lime green room, it’s occurred to me to worry that when left to my own devices, I might not have very good taste. What if not being able to afford the stuff I really want was the only thing that was keeping me from making my entire living space hideous to the consensus reality? What if a 100% lime green room is a bad idea?

Oh, but just look at it! I’m being ridiculous…it’s gorgeous. And so…what’s the word? Oh, yes: green.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Failure of the Day: Wienershnitzel and Ikea

I spent much of the week freaking out about turning into a yuppie. But tomorrow, we're going into the east bay to have Wienershnitzel and shop for that ever elusive lime green love seat, and I'm kinda really excited about it. Does that make me bad?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Failure of the Day: Sheep

Every morning, I wake up at 5:30. I don’t have to get up until 8, but my eyelids pop open like little springs—sproing!—the same time each day. I generally spend this time worrying that I am about to get fired or hit by a car or widowed; my brain still runs that way despite the fact that there is so little immanent, foreseeable danger facing me at the moment that I have to stretch decades into the future to rub my fingertip on a nugget of it.

I wake up so early because I am hungry. Except I’m not…I’m never hungry in the morning…I just have a craving. For meat. Rare, pink meat on a bone. Lamb. Good God, do I crave lamb. And I’m screwed because after my 90 day Nancy-Gets-Anything-She-Wants-Because-She-Doesn’t-Get Cigarettes binge, I’m back on a low-cal trip.

(Aside: I bought some produce yesterday on my way home from the Y. But when Chris came home and saw the fruit, I think he might not have even recognized it, it was so out of context. “It looks like an apple…but Nancy’s holding, so it…it can’t be!”)

It’s weird because before my current spate of cravings, I haven’t had lamb since I was a little girl. And I didn’t really like it then. But all of a sudden, I just can’t get enough of it. And I think I know why. For my birthday this year, Chris gave me the complete Haruki Murakami library…some 10 or so books. I read a bunch of them until the new Martin Amis came out, and then I put them aside for a while. Now I’m back on Murakami.

If you’ve read him, you already know: sheep, sheep, and more sheep. I’m just finishing up A Wild Sheep Chase this week. I was going to read another of his before moving on to Elizabeth Costello by JM Coetzee, an xmas present from Chris, but I think I’ll have to postpone reading the rest of the Murakami for a while. I’m just too hungry.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Failure of the Day: After My Own Heart

Found this in my daily email from the Editors’ Guild, which I really should join except I don’t know what guilds do exactly. Is it like a union? Or is it just so we can get together and plan ways to torture the authors who have worked so hard to torture us? It kind of doesn’t matter because really, I just love that word, guild. It trills in my head when I think it.

The woman in the article is officially My Hero, standing in some terribly British place holding a six-inch apostrophe over a movie billboard so it would be correctly punctuated.

AndNowForSomethingCompletelyDifferent: I finally wandered in to my friendly neighborhood insurance agent’s office yesterday and met the dull dull dull man who wants to give us money for being dead in a predefined amount of time. I swear to god, adulthood requires some really wacky conversations and the trains of thought behind are a good deal worse.

I had a swell time learning about the three kinds of life insurance, Term, Whole, and Universal. The only one that is even the tiniest bit affordable to anyone except the very wealthy is Term Life. The longer the term, the more expensive the premiums. But here’s the thing—you pay your premiums every month for 30 years but if you in die 31 years, you get bubkas. Zilch, even though you’ve given the insurance company $10,000–$20,000 or more depending on all kinds of factors. Because of this, I’ve decided that it should not be called insurance, it’s should be called a “theoretical purchase.”

Do you see where the horrible train of thought leads? There’s only one way not to get ripped off by the insurance companies, and that is to die. That’s how you win. By dying. And sooner rather than later, really, for the best savings.

So yeah, there it is, adulthood. Spend all your money on something you don’t need or die. The agent did give me a free road atlas, though.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Failure of the Day: Naomi Watt’s Goddamn Nipples

21 Grams was AWFUL. The first half was an inexplicable jumble of scene after scene with no context in which you are forced to be a tourist through the various types of human pain and suffering. The second half began to make some sense of itself, so that part was merely a failed attempt at non-linear narrative.

I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that I am hardly wimpy about grim and depressing and painful movies or art of any sort. If it’s about terminal illness, all the better. But Jesus, watching people suffer with no context or coherent storyline is not innovative filmmaking, it’s strolling down the hallway at General and eyeballing strangers in their beds.

And seriously, Naomi Watt’s nipples are size of my fists. And I’m tired of looking at them already.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Failure of the Day: Fucken Happiness

Really, It’s kind of ridiculous because I keep saying the same thing over and over, and if I’m going to keep having one happy day after another what’s the point of being a writer for chrissakes? (As pointed out by Harvey Danger already, who had the good sense to disband after realizing that the answer to their question: “I’m so happy…how do you write about that?” can only be answered with: “You don’t, so shut the fuck up already.”)

We saw Big Fish yesterday and I just loved it beyond all rationale. Never mind that it is fitting in with Angels in America and some other things in reinforcing my idea that making my novel more of a fantasia is the best way to do what I’m trying to do. Even beyond that, it was just so many different kinds of wonderful…it was sort of the anti-Forrest Gump, I thought. All of the overflowing love and magic but none of the conformity and doing only what you’re told.

After the movie, we had roast beef at Tommy’s Joynt because my craving for meat just goes on and on. Then we went to Green Apple and picked up the full theatrical text of Angels in America and the novel Big Fish was based on even though both had those horrible “Now A Major Motion Picture” covers. And I am beginning to feel geared up in an actual way to complete my novel properly; that is, not just do it, but do it right and do it justice. And in the end I suppose that is how you write when you’re happy…by finally feeling strong enough and safe enough to be able to write about being neither safe nor strong without getting pulled into pieces.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Failure of the Day: The Obvious

So New Years Eve is always weird because I’m female, so I have a kind of biological imperative to go out even though I know without a doubt that I will start to get really sleepy around 10 PM. But still, I know that it is my god given right as a married woman to always have a date on New Years Eve, which entails having plans on New Years Eve. Whether I want them or not.

But I was realistic this year, given that both of us are just on this side of a particularly brutal cold and still in need of a nice bit of rest. Plus I woke up at 5 AM wide goddamn awake yesterday morning in the grip of a paralyzing fear that I had not yet purchased life insurance for god sake, that’s what my anxiety attacks have come to. It’s pathetic. I can’t even muster a decent night hell anymore.

Anyway, that pretty much did in any thought I had of being outside or wearing shoes when the AM rolled around again. I thought, as I spent the afternoon adjusting the formatting of paragraph marks in a book so dull that after 13 chapters I still have no idea what it is actually about, I thought: Dinner would be nice.

And so when Chris came home from his short day and suggested the fancy Lika bistro around the corner, I clapped my hands and jumped up and down a little bit. Then I put my lipstick in my new lime green handbag and put on the very fancy pumps I bought as a present for myself when I renewed my work contract. Then I ate a bunch of lamb. A bunch of very good lamb. On a bed of risotto, baby.

We spent a leisurely 2 hours eating a lovely dinner and then came home, where I drank 2 cans of Cherry 7-Up from a champagne flute and watched the New Years episode of My So-Called Life. I managed to remain conscious until midnight, just long enough to watch the goofystupid local news anchors muff the 10 second countdown, and then I fell promptly to sleep. Happy new year.