Hello, Failure

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Failure of the Day: Shameless Begging

I don't generally do this. I wouldn't. It's not like me.

But look. My birthday is in two and a half weeks.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Failure of the Day: How It Went: The Highlights

The first thing that happened: As we sat in the hotel’s atrium courtyard waiting for the ballroom to open and taking advantage of the free happy hour, a former classmate who we’ve neither seen nor spoken to since the mid 80s pointed at us from across some tables and potted plants, mouthed our names, gave me the thumbs up, and mouthed “You finally got him!”

Throughout the evening, we tried repeatedly to surprise someone with the fact of our marriage, but every single person we spoke to—every one—already knew.

Chris spent half the evening telling people that he sells couch insurance, and the other half of the evening babysitting his 7th grade girlfriend while she was too drunk to function in public.

The first words of that same ex-girlfriend to me were: “At the 10 year reunion, everyone thought I was you because I was nursing and my boobs were really big!” She told me that story two more times as the night progressed. Chris is officially avenged for having to deal with two of my (beloved by both of us now) ex-boyfriends as my bridesmaids.

Chris was very popular with the ladies, especially the newly divorced and poorly married ones. Most of them stopped talking to him all but mid-sentence when they spotted his wedding ring. Most.

Almost no one remembered my having curly hair. That’s how big my boobs were.

I had a completely terrific time. I was tipsy as all get out the whole dang time, virtually everyone had gained almost exactly the same amount of weight as I have, and there wasn’t a soul who I wasn’t happy to see either because I liked them or because they seemed to really like me even though I had no idea who they were.

For an evening rife with opportunity for disaster, nothing surprised me more than the complete lack of it. Even the conversation I anticipated two entries ago evaporated into the utterly unnecessary the moment we said hello to each other.

The evening was capped off with door prize drawings, of which I won the grand prize, a one-night stay in an apparently very swank San Jose hotel. How about that.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Failure of the Day: Stoli and Soda, Lots of Ice

I have that strange gauzy feeling in my head like after you are up all night on LSD and you are sleepy but your teeth are still numb and you need to talk. Or perhaps I just have a hangover. I don’t know; I’ve never had one before.

I decided that come hell or high water, I was drinking alcohol at the reunion. Now, everyone who knows me knows that I have trying to learn to drink for 25 years to no avail. It tastes horrible and I hate it. I have always tried to disguise the taste of the liquor by mixing it with something sweet, fruit juice or Collins mix. But those drinks taste like something good with something foul lurking in it, and I usually give up after like 3 sips.

After the ’89 earthquake (I mean about 20 minutes after it), through a convoluted set of circumstances, I found myself in possession of a vodka and mineral water, which, because I was plenty freaked out, I drank very quickly. It didn’t taste good but I drank it anyway. It occurred me some 15 years later (i.e. last weekend) that what I had done with that drink was to mix the liquor with something I also don’t like. Instead of trying to make the drink taste good, I had just made it taste different.


I began formulating a drink order that would put this idea into practice and also not out me as the world’s oldest booze rookie. I know from cocktailing that Stoli is the abbreviation of a very respectable brand of vodka that I don’t feel like looking up how to spell just now. I know I wanted to mix it with carbonated water so I did some research on the Internet (I’m not kidding) and learned that the proper name for the drink I wanted was Vodka and Soda. I also knew that I wanted it with ice but I wasn’t sure if this particular cocktail came over ice, like, by default, or whether specifying “on the rocks” would reveal my amateur status. But by specifying “lots of ice” I could guarantee ice and look like I had ordered this drink before and been unhappy with the amount of ice in it. Yes, my friends, I am a genius.

I practiced on Chris on all Saturday morning. I saddled up to the kitchen counter and said in a loud, clear voice “Stoli and Soda, lots of ice!” I was ready. All that was left was to see if I could actually drink the thing without making that horrible face liquor usually makes me make.

I will write about the reunion itself soon. For now, though, you should know that from 5:30 PM until midnight on Saturday, I drank no fewer than FIVE Stoli and Sodas, and every one of them was chock full of ice. They were not delicious. They were, however, the one thing very, very few alcoholic beverages have ever been: in my stomach.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Failure of the Day: Smote, con’t.

You know, when one is writing a novel in which every chapter is a doctor appointment, one needs to be able to take that generally clinical and brief interaction and turn it into something worthwhile and interesting. Or at least horrifying. I am slowly learning how to do just that.

Today I had an issue to discuss with my GP, so I called her and left a message. A little while later, she called me back at work and I told her what the trouble was. She told me that she would give me a prescription. Being the quick thinker that I am, I immediately opened my browser, found the Walgreens site, searched the site for stores by zip code, and was able to provide the doc with the number for my pharmacy within about 15 seconds of her saying she could call in the Rx. No office visit. No exam. No paper dress. No co-pay. From start to finish: 2 minutes.

I was initially so delighted with this transaction that not even Ling Ling, the world’s surliest office manager, hurling my paycheck at my feet could dampen my spirits. But then it dawned on me…long and terrible doctor appointments are my stock and trade! Cheerful 2 minute phone conversations will not do. There’s no way I can transform that into, y’know, great literature. There must be something else I can use it for! Hey! I have an idea…

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Failure of the Day: Earnestness

After four days of boycotting all forms of news media, I am still too sensitive to so much as stream Air America radio at work today. I think I've developed some sort of irony deficiency. I’ve got no emotional distance from anything and I’m doing a very poor job of feigning indifference.

I am still just beside myself with gloom about the election. I get all these emails every day from Mary Beth Cahill, the Kerry campaign manager, hitting me up for more money or another signature on the latest impotent Internet petition, and even though the reply-to address surely goes directly to a black hole of nothingness, it’s all I can do to not write back and spew my tirade about what a horrible job she is doing and how I almost hope that she is really just a undercover NeoCon operative because at least then it would all make sense.

I even got absurdly bummed out when my fantasy football team, the SFSnatch, lost on Sunday (and by a measly 2 points! Damn you TJ Duckett! Damn you straight to helllllllllllllllllll!).

Tonight, we have a rare weeknight social outing (happy birthday David!) and then I’ll turn my newly earnest attention to the thing that I suspect is the root cause of my even-more-catastrophic-than-usual sense of the world—our 20th high school reunion on Saturday. Featuring conversations like “John, so nice to see you! Say, I’ve always wondered, did you blow my junior prom date at the actual prom, or just during the months before and after? And oh by the way...still a mormon?”

Yeah...irony…who needs it?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Failure of the Day: Culture at Large

I am in a fit of pessimism these days and all but certain the unthinkable is not only thinkable but less than 8 weeks away from becoming old news. It dawned on me this morning that the 21st century aughts (our current decade—who knows what to call it?) is turning into the anti-1960s.

Now, I am no 60s worshipper—my basic view of that decade is that some white guys got high, made some largely mediocre and overlong rock and roll, stopped bathing, and figured out how to stop being financially or emotionally beholden to women, while still getting those women to cook, clean, and put out for them. The civil rights movement was unquestionably righteous, but the Vietnam protests continue to be vastly over-rated in their effectiveness at ending that war.

But none of that is to say that progress wasn’t made during that time; clearly it was. Attitudes shifted, and "consciousnesses" were "raised," as it were. People could at least conceive of changing their minds. And the music, although plenty of people woke up finally sober a few years later and went “Eww!,” was at least inspiring and progressive in spirit. So sure, I’ll pile on with boomers about that: Yeah, yeah, weren’t those the days.

I don’t have to point out political parallels in negative to anyone, certainly not anyone who reads this blog. I also think the cultural parallels in negative are pretty clear: however many progressive hip hop acts there are underground, mainstream hip hop—black, white, male, and female—is as right wing as you get. It’s sexist and homophobic, and it worships wealth above all else. Until someone wins a trophy, then it’s all glory to God, dontcha know. It’s the Republican party with curse words.

If someone wants to point out what I’m missing or the ways I’m wrong about this, I’d love it. But from my perspective right now, it’ll be about 40 years before my beloved moronic Left gets its shit together enough to figure out how to convince anyone other than itself of anything.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Failure of the Day: BoilSockCloudLabor

You’ll all be relieved to know that The Boil seems to be diminishing nicely without the benefit of lancing. If nothing else, I am relieved to know that. One can’t help but feel just utterly noxious when smote with such a thing.

After finishing Sock, I have to say, I still recommend it pretty highly. It is not quite the transcendent read I thought it to be while I was sleepy, but by daylight it reminded me very much of early Palahniuk, before he decided to just go ahead and suck as much as possible. Keep in mind that I loved Invisible Monsters even more than you did, so I don’t make either of the last two statements lightly.

I’ve moved on to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, which I know nothing about but picked up because the reviews are ecstatic and make all the right references (“Haruki Murakami meets Philip K Dick!”). It’s impressive so far, even with a first chapter that all but dares the reader to try to machete her way through the thickets of it and then ends in the middle of a word. I’ll persevere and report back.

And hey there, fellow office workers, how about that 3-day weekend coming up! I myself have not known the pleasure of a paid holiday since…um…New Years Day 1992, I think. No paid holidays at the Company in Redmond, which they tried, lamely, I thought, to pass off as a move toward political correctness (“Why should a Buddhist have to take Christmas off?”) Very difficult not to look at the all-white, all-gentile management team and tell them that I was authorized to speak for all Jews when I say that none of us have ever been offended by a paid day off.

We’ve no plans for the weekend, although Chris wants to dust at some point. I’m considering dyeing my hair again but am noncommittal. Very likely we will hole up and watch Monk and Sports Night DVDs. And even though I’ve never belonged to a labor union, when I sleep in on Monday, I won’t be offended at all.