Hello, Failure

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Failure of the Day: Sad Story, in Hyperlinks

Not that I’m biased or anything, but Chris has the best blog on the Internet. He’s a blog savant. If you aren’t reading his daily updates, your life is empty and I pity you.

Monday's entry is a semi-linear semi-narrative; a story you have to piece together through a series of links. You can figure out the subject of the story only if you recognize the reference in first picture’s caption.

Now, you don’t have to recognize the caption and realize who the story is about—you can just assume it’s about someone. (Are you getting the idea about how fascinating and strange his fiction is? You might figure out who the main character is, or you might not. He doesn’t care, and it doesn’t really matter.) The story works either way.

There are four important elements in the story, outlined in the four links:
1. Car races in Sonoma
2. Golf Cart
3. Broken Leg
4. Crutches

The story goes like this: Someone goes to the races, gets hit by a golf cart, falls down and breaks their leg, and will be spending the next several months on crutches. Which is almost a funny story, but it’s not—because the caption under the first picture is a lyric from the song Tie Your Mother Down from the Queen album A Day at The Races. So my fellow writers, I dare you: you try to write someting where the emotional content is hidden in a song title that is never even mentioned.

Chris’s mom is OK, thankfully—she’s a trooper and one tough cookie. She was up and around on a walker fewer than 12 hours after the surgery to put the pins in to hold the bones in place of what all the x-ray techs agree is a very impressive tib-fib break. And she was pleased as all getout to tell me about her first ever ride in an ambulance. It’s Chris who puts on the brave face: his hypertrophied sense of personal responsibility the real casualty…he’s the one who gave his folks the tickets to the race.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Failure of the Day: Misc., Recent and Local

  • We had our first moderately expensive dinner in SJ last Thursday, courtesy of an extremely friendly book distributor in town to help out with Chris’s store during the first week of school. The guy took six of us out to Original Joe’s, an old timey, waiters-in-tuxedos Italian restaurant down the street from our apartment. The food was terrific, but seriously, it’s a mafia hangout right? Does anybody know? It just has to be. Those people couldn’t look like that by accident, could they?

  • Before my workload went batshit insane recently, I took an afternoon off and checked out the (always free, thank you very much) San Jose Museum of Art, also right down the street from our apartment. The museum could have been bigger I thought, but it was showing three of the Nancyest exhibits in the history of art. The first was called Brides of Frankenstein, and it featured representations of body parts by female artists. That some of the body parts were robotic was but one of the pleasures. The second exhibit was beautiful photographs of people in terrifying-looking hospital rooms. And the third was a 7 foot by 20 foot light wall of enormous MRI films…of pomegranates. I actually moaned with pleasure when I saw it.

  • One of the treats in our welcome gift basket here was a certificate for 2 free tickets to the San Jose Repertory Theater, which like everything else, is, I swear, right down the street. It really is; we can see it from our dining room window. I am not a huge fan of live theater but free is free, so I started looking into their lineup for this season. First up: a musical about the Winchester Mystery House. No kidding. I can’t tell if that is genius or hilarious in a Waiting for Guffman kind of way, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to see it. God help me.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Failure of the Day: You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With

After over 7 years of coupledom and almost 4 years of marriage, Chris and I did something for the first time this weekend—we opened a joint checking account.

Up until now, we’ve been perfectly content keeping our finances entirely separate. It’s occasionally slightly more time consuming than it might otherwise be—each of us writing a check for half the rent, paying for groceries on two debit cards, etc.—but it strikes me that separate accounts is a nice vote for both financial independence and trust. He works hard for his money as I do mine; no one should tell him or me what we can or can’t do with it. Sometimes he wants a genuine replica light saber (or three); sometimes I want a spectacular pair of eyeglasses.

Given that we spend our cash as we see fit, separate accounts also entails a certain level of trust. He has no control over my account, so he needs to know that I’m not going to do something irresponsible or poorly thought out that would put him in some sort of financial jeopardy. We of course discuss all major (and almost all minor) purchases before making them, and I can’t imagine one us buying something that other was uncomfortable with, but nevertheless, only I have final say over what I do with my money and only he has final say over what he does with his.

And yet, we walked right into the bank today and opened a joint account. Not as a replacement to our individual accounts, but as an addition to them. We did it for several reasons, not least of which is that my accounts are based in San Francisco, his accounts are based in Seattle, and we live in neither of those places, so we thought it might be nice to have a local account. And also because it actually is kind of a hassle to write two rent checks. Now we’ll each just transfer money to the joint account each month and write a single check. I think that’s probably all we’ll use the account for.

Still, though, it feels like we’ve crossed some sort of final relationship threshold. We’ve shared everything for a good long while already; today we took a little step into co-mingling. I suspect this will be as far as it goes—and I’m damn sure he’ll never let my ragged, marked-up, used paperbacks on the same shelves with his pristine hardbacks.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Failure of the Day: The Various Air

Things about San Jose so far:

  • Sleeping with the window open. I don’t think anyplace I lived in SF had screens on the windows, and I’m seriously insect phobic, so even on the one or two nights a year when it was warm enough to sleep with a window open, the bugs made it out of the question. The evenings here are cool and splendid, and the breeze makes the bed feel comfortable and luxurious.

  • Ceilings. Have I mentioned that our apartment has 9-foot ceilings on both floors? It’s hard to explain it in a way that will make sense to you the way it feels to me, but it’s a bit like being at the bottom of a well. I know to most people, that is not only the last thing it actually feels like, but also the last thing they would want it to feel like, but to me, it’s the coziest feeling in the world.

  • The view from both the window in my office (on the 3rd floor of the apartment complex) and the window in the living room (directly above my office, on the 4th floor) looks out into the sky above the buildings across the street. Lights zoom horizontally from left to right across the space, and my eye absent mindedly reads them as cars on a freeway overpass in the distance. They’re not; they are planes—low enough to see their company logos—coming in for a landing. It’s a startling realization every time, and it feels strangely reassuring and modern.

  • Dusk. We have a big papasan chair on the patio, and I am getting into the habit of curling up in it with a book when it’s still light out but it’s late enough that there’s no direct sunshine. The heat during the day still feels a bit hostile toward me sometimes but I swear, the dusk makes it all worthwhile. And summer is my least favorite season—I can hardly wait for autumn.

  • Despite all of this, I remain an blithering, neurotic pain in the ass as I continue to adapt poorly to even the most positive of changes. I'm working on it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Failure of the Day: Boon

And here we are. The move itself was semi-disastrous—saved only by several of Chris’s big strapping men friends from work coming to our rescue. Suffice to say we could really have used a freight elevator. I am of course not anybody’s first choice when it comes to adventures in heavy lifting, but I pitched in as much as I could—and more than I should have—and as a result had to spend much of the next day in bed while Chris labored to start getting the place in order. An inauspicious start, but we are undeterred.

By now, we are just about unpacked and largely settled in. Boxes have been emptied and pictures have been hung. The new apartment is gaspingly beautiful and easily the nicest place either of us have ever lived. I spend a fair amount of time twirling in it, still not quite grasping the enormity of my good fortune. Still, though, I am not the world’s best (or really, even in the top, say, 100 million) at adapting to change, and the spikes in my anxiety level appear as plainly on Chris’s face as they do on mine (he frowns his concern; I bloom with whole constellations of pimples the likes of which I never saw in adolescence).

As I adapt to the south bay heat, it is a testimony to something or other in my fucked head that I calm myself before bed by reading the Inferno. (The Durling translation—David, is that the one you like?) It is my loss, I know, but I am having a very hard time taking it seriously. It reads like Naked Lunch to me; which is to say I just can’t glean any emotional content from it; it’s too over the top. I focus too heavily on the author, I suppose, and I can only picture the Genius getting off on it, dredging the murkiest corners of his brain for the craziest imaginable shit. It does the trick though; one canto before bed and my brain is purring like a kitty and ready for a peaceful night of rest. There’s something to be said about moving and relativity there. And so we are home.