Hello, Failure

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

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Failure of the Day: DemoCon

I’m probably going to miss Kerry’s acceptance speech tonight. It’ll be the first time I’ve missed the democratic nominee’s acceptance speech since—no kidding—1972. It wasn’t even my fault that I missed the ’72 speech; I was only 5, and it was on after my bedtime.

The spring before the 1976 convention, I was in the 5th grade. I was the head my class’s presidential debate team; our slogan was “Ford is a Farter, but Carter is Smarter.” (Yes. Even then, I was a poet.) I wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a delegate at the convention. I thought I would do it for sure when I was grown up. Oh well.

I was pretty cute back then, in a “little round girl with poofy hair and glasses” kind of way, and then as now, I was terrified of most everything except public speaking. My point is this: I’m 37 years old and I am seriously and painfully and pathetically jealous of Ilana Wexler.

I know nobody really likes Kerry, that he is a “consensus” candidate and all that. I know that these conventions are 4-day-long infomercials that have the production values of an 8th grade talent show. But I can’t help it; these things really get me. I get these big welling emotions, squirt righteous tears, and fill up with progressive pride.

If there is one word that has never, ever applied to me, that word is “faithful.” I am the antithesis of faith. I don’t have it in me to just go around believing and disbelieving things. If you wanted to bet me $5 that the sun would not rise tomorrow, I would not take that bet. Get it? No faith in anything.

But this week, here’s the thing: I would buy a bridge from John Edwards. And I don’t even want a bridge.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Failure of the Day: More Tourist Attractions About Death, Please

Sunday was Chris’s birthday. He put on a good show of pretending to be surprised that I got us tickets to Alcatraz, but it was hardly a shocker—he’s been begging to go there since we lived in Seattle. It’s kind of amazing that neither of us had ever been there before; you’d think some teacher at some point would have shlepped our tot asses on the boat for a field trip. It would have been a lot more fun than damn Mission San Juan Batista in 4th grade, which I knew inside out after having constructed my own version of it out of sugar cubes. But I digress.

Alcatraz was a pretty cool trip, I have to say. Happily, we like boats more than we dislike tourists so although it was crowded, we got to see scores of seagulls suspended completely still in mid-air, just riding the air current over the bay.

The prison itself was kind of smelly. We shuffled through the cell blocks following the instructions of our audio tour. When we got to the part of the tour where we could go into one of the cells, I marched right in the tiny room, spun around to face Chris, and squealed “I LOVE it in here!” And I did; it was very cozy! I felt super comfortable and right at home. As an inmate, you got the cell to yourself! And you could read books! Your got your own little bed and toilet and sink, and all in a tight little box. That’s more amenities than I had during my entire 20s.

So right from the get-go, my sense of the tone of the place was a little skewed. And that’s on top of how strange the tone is on its own, even without my claustrophilia. On the one hand, they try to make it grim and dire, and they keep making you stand in the exact spot where some poor guy got killed by the guards for trying to escape. But on the other hand, they know it’s a bunch of Ghirardelli sugar-hyped vacationers who just want to see the sights and get back to the City and queue up for the cable car (and what a scam that is—the best we have to offer tourists is…Muni? For three dollars? …but again I digress). So it’s a quick tour with goofy mannequin heads, and at the end you can buy genuine replicas of the spoons some inmates used to carve through the walls.

All in all, it was great; totally another thing I make fun of Chris for wanting to do but that turns out to be completely cool. And really, all I want to do is go back to the cell and curl up in the little bed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Failure of the Day: If Only they Had Called It “Fast” 
For the last six or so months there’s been an odd little restaurant on the corner of 23rd and Clement. It looks sort of fake—it’s weird and plastic and orange, and it’s called Quickly. The first time we saw it, we laughed and laughed. I said we could never, ever go there because in my opinion, restaurant names should be more than just an adverb.
We walked past the Quickly several times over the months and never once saw a customer. I have a standard assumption for several never-patronized businesses in my neighborhood that they are “mob fronts” even though I’ve no idea what that means or entails; it just is what pops in my head and I’m going with it.
About a month ago all the windows and door of the Quickly were papered over, but the sign said they would be back on July 9, like they were just on vacation or something. I can understand that; not serving all that good Quickly chow is tiring work; After a few months of not serving it, I too would need a break. But the 9th came and went the Quickly stayed papered shut. Last week, the sign changed and said they’d re-open the 19th. But it’s the 21st and they’re still closed.
When I got home from work today, there was a very glossy 5 x 7 postcard shoved into the handle of the front gate of our building. Usually, I don’t even look at the things shoved or rubber banded or otherwise attached to my house because I don’t trust restaurants that advertise that way. But I picked up the postcard because it looked like it might have one of those funny inscrutable puffy creatures on it somewhere that seem to be all the anime rage these days. And where there’s a funny inscrutable puffy creature, there’s always very very badly translated text (“We are enjoying our pleasant with vigor!”) and it’s not like that ever stops being funny.
But lo and behold it was an ad for the Quickly’s grand opening special. The Quickly wants me to know that I can get Bubble Milk Green for $0.59 and baby chicken wings for $2.99. Wait…did you say baby chicken wings? How can I resist that? But I thought baby chickens were, you know, eggs. Which don’t have wings. Wait. They don’t, right? So you see, the Quickly enigma continues.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Failure of the Day: Bands du Jour
Because I am all super trendy and down with kids and all, but yet still kind of old and slow, I have only recently begun listening to Death Cab for Cutie. On Transatlanticism, which I think is their latest CD, here’s what 100% of their songs are about:
One time, this thing happened, and it made me sad.
The thing is, it’s really, really good. Of course, I love them helplessly. They are so dang sensitive. There’s not a lot of rock and roll that I would characterize as cuddly, but Death Cab are goddamn care bears. In my defense, I am reasonably certain that they are at least pretty well-read care bears.
I also picked up Franz Ferdinand some months ago but only started listening to it this week. I’m not sure if I really really like it or if I think it is just funny in that “1982? Seriously?” kind of way. My podiatrist liked it though. Is that a general plus for FF or a minus? Is there an alternative universe in which podiatrists are the ultimate trend setters? How did my podiatrist end up burning an illegal copy of my FF CD during my last office visit? Why do I have a podiatrist?
I don’t know. Probably minus.
He’s a little odd and I am maybe too accommodating, but he didn’t charge me for the office visit and it seemed the least I could do.
Bum subtalar joint.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Failure of the Day: Seriously, How Do You People Do It?

This 9 to 5 business is time consuming! And I haven’t even started trying to fit in my hour at the gym and hour of writing every day. Am I hopelessly over-optimistic? (Yeah…that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of me.) I can’t even call my podiatrist to pick up my orthopedic shoe inserts (don’t ask…lets just say you’ve been warned about jogging in Converse low tops instead of actual running shoes) because his office closes at 5 PM and I’ve yet to be outfitted with a phone at work.

I don’t think I’ve answered a personal email in 9 days either. (Eli, this apology is for you—maybe now you’ll write a novel about crappy neuro-whatevers. It’ll be cool…we’ll have joint book tours.)

I imagine this will all settle into some sort of routine eventually, but for now I feel positively heroic that I’ve managed to find time to shower every day.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Failure of the Day: New Job Roundup

The new job is pretty cool. It’s a bit of an adjustment--but nobody really wants to hear my tale of woe about having to actually leave the house. Other than not being located in my apartment, there's not much I can say I’m left wanting in my new form of employment. Pleasant offices in a big warehouse, very casual atmosphere, and interesting, engaging work that I can do while listening to streaming audio or CDs. After 3 days, I‘m feeling reasonably comfortable, and I’m on my way to figuring out how to still do all the stuff I’m used to doing each day now that there’s about 10 hours less of it.

Chris reports similar new job success; he now works with one of his old college roommates (who kindly DJ’ed our wedding reception and is an all around nice guy), and who knows Chris well enough that he set aside almost the entire first day so Chris could clean the office they’ll be sharing. Very sweet of him; there’s no better way to make Chris comfortable than to let him tidy up a new environment. No, really.

I think we’ll celebrate our good fortune by watching Metallica almost self destruct in their new documentary this weekend. Because we may be old, married, middle class DINKs but we still know how to rock, goddamn it.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Failure of the Day: Duality and the Denial of Desire. Now with More KA-BLOOEY!!!

Although Chris got our tickets for Spider-Man 2 some three weeks ago, it was still just not early enough to beat Jeff to the online review. (Not that we are racing. And not that it isn’t obvious to one and all that Jeff’s knowledge and understanding of both movies in general and Spider-Man in particular renders whatever opinion I have pieced together superfluous at best. Still, though, to help you keep my review distinct from his in your mind, for my revamped particle accelerator metaphor, I will use tapioca pudding instead of shaving cream—it’s a more precise image, don’t you think?)

I thought the first Spider-Man movie was just OK, truth be told, although I was a bit squidgey about admitting that. Everyone seemed to like it so much and didn’t mind that the animation made him look kind of spazzy when he was flailing around on the webs. It was fun and all but somehow, for me, there just wasn’t any there there.

Well, from the get-go S-M2 is a whole other ballgame. Even the opening credits were clever and well done. It’s funny and touching and even thought provoking in it’s own way, with a lovely thread running through it about the everydayness of goodness and heroism. It reinforces the classic definition of Romanticism as the act of choosing someone else’s well-being over your own, but acknowledges the failing of all that self-sacrifice by enabling the Romantic Object to let it be known that she can look out for her own well being, thank you very much.

I still think he looks spazzy when he’s doing the skyscraper swing, and this isn’t a great choice if you want a movie that makes...what’s the word? oh, yeah: sense, but as a superhero movie, it is extremely satisfying.