Hello, Failure

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

Monday, October 25, 2004

Failure of the Day: Who?

I might as well have straight hair. Seriously, for all the hallmarks of what I know as Me-ness that have been obliterated in the last year or so, I might as well get rid of the last vestige.

I started drinking coffee. Just on a whim this weekend. Chris and I were driving around North Beach, having our little adventures as we like to do on weekends, and for some reason it popped into my head that I could have a decaf nonfat latte with a thingie of Equal and it would be perfectly legal in my no-carb world.

I’ve drunk coffee before; in the early 90s, the Blue Danube café made a latte that, when I poured 12 ounces of sugar in was rendered palatable to me, but all other attempts have been abject miseries. And yet, the latte I had in North Beach on Saturday and the one I had in my neighborhood yesterday were delicious, even without sugar or milkfat. I tell you, it’s a world gone mad.

I know I crossed a serious relativity line when I made the switch to diet soda, but who could have foreseen such far-reaching consequences? Here I am: alcohol: yes, coffee: yes, cigarettes no. I shudder to think what could be next for me. Jelly? Vegetables? MUSTARD??? My god, where will it end?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Failure of the Day: The View from Day 8

The South Beach diet is an interesting metabolic experience, in case you were wondering. Losing 6 pounds in a week is motivational to be sure; barely having the energy to walk from my office to the bus stop is less so. There’s the emotional, uh…“frailty,” as well. Chris is in full on Nancy’s Delicate Condition mode. Again. Because “carbs” it turns out, means sugar (who knew?), and during the first two weeks of this diet, you go cold turkey off all of them, in all their forms.

Now, I am enjoying my steaks and artichokes dipped in butter dinners. I am enjoying my cheese omelet breakfasts, my dry roasted almond snacks, and all the other things I am eating. I’ve not broken one single rule yet, mostly because I’m allowed to have no sugar added fudgesicles after dinner.

But there are ways that detoxing from sugar feels similar to the condition I was in a year ago today, which is to say, a gnawing, spitting, growling mammal who would have disemboweled her beloved husband if someone told her that there was a cigarette in his small intestine.

This is not that bad, not nearly. It is yet another humbling experience in that I Am A Chemical Robot kind of way, but so far, I am coasting on two qualities that I have in abundance and that were successful in keeping me tobacco free for over a year now. Those would be stubbornness and vanity.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Failure of the Day: 5 Feet and 6 Inches of Righteous Whupass

I watched the news of this ripple across the Web like a heat mirage yesterday; it was thrilling. If you haven’t already, read the transcript of Jon Stewart’s appearance on CNN’s Crossfire. Even better, watch it this weekend; they’re bound to rebroadcast it. Metafilter and Wonkette went apeshit because Jon called Tucker Carlson a dick on air, but to me that was one of the friendlier moments. There’s a point when Tucker says “I thought you were gonna be funny” and Jon says “No. I’m not gonna be your monkey” that is cute in text but when you can see JS’s face, he is a perfect mask of focused contempt. Stream a poor-quality video and take a gander at the first bit of televised honest political discourse in our lifetimes.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Failure of the Day: A Tale of Two CDs

Sometime last week, Chris came home with Has Been, the Ben Folds/ ahem William Shatner collaboration. He put it on, listened to it for about ten minutes, and then calmly came into my room and said, “Would you come out here, please? I need help throwing all our other CDs away!” He made me listen to a song called something like Everybody’s Gonna Die that was HORRIBLE but that made Chris dance around the apartment so vigorously that for a while there, he was literally bouncing off the walls.

Yesterday, we took the long way home from Concord (where we had gone because I needed a thing that I could only get from this one particular store there and Chris is deep into Nancy Gets Everything She Wants weekend) and we found ourselves at the Fremont Hub, where, at the Borders, Chris picked up the new REM CD while I marveled at a bookstore that, as near as I could determine, had no literature section.

Back in the car, we drove to 7-11, got enormous slurpees, popped the new REM in the stereo, got on the freeway, and settled in to listen. Half an hour later, two things were painfully clear:

1. The San Mateo bridge was not even a little bit less congested than we imagined the bay bridge would be because of Fleet week festivities.

2. The Folds/Shatner CD is inarguably better than the godawful piece of boring REM shit.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Failure of the Day: TEE vee

Did I mention that I’m reading the new Philip Roth book, which is super creepy and super self indulgent BOTH? Well, I am. And after that I’m gonna read The Normals by David Gilbert, which I’m going to be surprised to get from Chris for my birthday. In case you were worried that I’m losing that endearing “pretentious pain in the ass” quality I have. Because what I really want to talk about is invisible dinosaurs.

Wednesday is Good Tv night. Chris is helpless against the shiny pure sugar goo of Smallville. He literally has no defenses; he is all exposed soft underbelly. But while we are watching Clark Kent look really really hard at stuff until it explodes, we are taping the real story of the night, Lost. Which is also a silly show, but it’s silly in just the right way.

Plane crash, desert island, unseen monster in the jungle eats the people one by one, OK? The first time we watched it, I turned to Chris and said, “Well, that was pretty good, dontcha think? And I read a thing where they promised it isn’t a dinosaur.” And he said, “LOVE that show!” And I said (because this is my favorite joke) “Too bad we can’t watch it anymore.” And Chris said, “That’s OK…we can watch any show with an invisible dinosaur you want.”

The thing is, I can’t think of a single show that wouldn’t be much improved by the addition of an invisible dinosaur. Survivor is already basically the same show as Lost—unreasonably bitchy and thin people disappearing one at a time amidst lots of shaking palm trees. It may well already have an invisible dinosaur, too; invisible dinosaurs are wily. And would anyone put it past Mark Burnett?

An invisible dinosaur killing people would also give CSI a real shot in the arm. Solve that, Grissom! They’ve already got an Anything Goes/ God Wears Corduroy universe on Joan of Arcadia; an invisible dinosaur would be just a drop in the bucket there. Ditto Smallville. And …oh my god…The OC…Seth Cohen proves his manhood and wins back Summer’s heart by climbing the invisible dinosaur and riding it through the sand to the strains of Toto. The Sleeper has awakened!*

*don't worry. no one gets it but Chris.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Failure of the Day: Between 30 and 40

Well, for starters, to catch up on some older business, Cloud Atlas is simply one of the finest novels I have read in the last 5 years. There are spots that are jaw-droppingly great; the rest is merely impeccably written, ingenious, and beautiful. I urge all you who might be planning to participate in Nanowrimo or otherwise engaged in trying to write a novel to avoid it at all costs or risk whatever self-esteem and sorry pocketful of rationalizations you may possess—motherfucken author is not yet 40 and if my spidey sense is correct, some 2 weeks from snagging the Booker prize.

Having just now ended my THIRD course of antibiotics in just over a month, I am almost confident in announcing that the phase in which I was inexplicably but most defiantly pro-biotic is now finally over. thank god.

Seeing as how my one year tobacco free anniversary is approaching, I had intended to celebrate by conning Chris into letting me have a cigar but instead I will probably just eat an enormous plate of spaghetti. Because this year’s Day After My Birthday Death of Joy plan features in a starring role the SouthBeach diet. I fully intend to lose the 30 pounds I gained in 1991, lost in 1996, and then regained in 1999. Whoop de do. And as a reward for having written that, here is a picture of me looking like I in no way need to lose 30 pounds.

L-R: Ruthi, Robert, Danny, me, Bernee (Robert's wife) 9/18/04 Posted by Hello