Hello, Failure

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

Friday, December 30, 2005

Failure of the Day: Do It Now

For your end-of-year, tax-deductible consideration:

The Feminist Majority Foundation: Supporting the last remaining clinic in the entire state of Mississippi that provides abortion services. Totalitarian Christians are drowning the clinic in harassment regulations in an effort to ensure that if they can't yet make it illegal, they will make it physically impossible to exercise your right to disagree with their various theological opinions.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: Yeah, like I really need to tell any of you about them. You like the funny books (or, you know, the ability to write whatever you want in those books we all keep churning out)? Fork over some cash.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Failure of the Day: Holiday Round-Up

No complaints this year. Chris and I cooked for his family on Sunday and everything went off without a hitch. The food was good, the company was pleasant, and everybody seemed to like their gifts…not least of which Chris, who really liked his Vader ’77 football jersey. I scored much bigger, and although it was delayed in the mail and hasn’t actually arrived yet (so I can’t say too much more lest the jinx reach its icy fingers into our mailbox), I’ve known what it was and that it was coming for awhile and have thoroughly enjoyed anticipating it. I’ll post more when it arrives.

At work I happily managed to navigate what for me were some fairly dicey holiday social situations. First was a holiday lunch with my boss and the proofing team, which ordinarily would have been no cause for alarm except they decided to go to a French restaurant. Being as difficult to feed as I am, that necessitated literally days of research, and thank god the place had its menu online because if they hadn’t I very well might have popped from sheer anxiety.

My first thought upon being told of where we would be going was, “Oh dear god, don’t let them serve effie legs.” I vividly imagined someone ordering that and me having to say, “Please. I beg you….as a personal favor to me…for the love of God, order something else!” And the plain fact of the matter is, I may well have had to do that if anyone at a table anywhere near me had ordered it. And having only worked there for six weeks and love love loving it, I’d just as soon put off letting them know what a complete social lunatic I am for as long as possible.

And that was just the above and beyond weirdness. There is also the fact that I don’t eat fruits or vegetables and am in addition as prosaic as the day is long about the small number of foods I will eat. I almost wept for joy when I saw that the lunch menu included “Hamburger Américain avec pommes frites.” Better still, I wasn’t the only one of the four us who went to a fancy French restaurant and ordered the cheeseburger, so I didn’t even feel like a totally uncultured idiot.

The next day there was a party for our building; an informal affair but it was catered and had live music. And although it was at 2 in the afternoon and it was fairly well understood that afterward we would all go back to work, the beer and wine flowed freely. (I’ve found there to be a surprising amount of accepted afternoon alcohol consumption at my office, but that’s a whole other story.) As most readers of this blog know, I am cold death on a stick at parties, being entirely incapable as I am at making smalltalk, but again being the new girl in full-blown Like ME! mode at work, I was determined to make an appearance and be demonstrably friendly and full of team spirit.

To my surprise I had a nice time and chatted comfortably with my co-workers. I was feeling downright adroit. I hadn’t fallen down or spilled anything on myself or anyone else, and no one noticed that I stepped on a cherry tomato and ground it into the carpet. And then in the middle of one conversation, a co-workers with whom I have a moderate amount of interaction, said to me, apropos of nothing at all, “So what’s with the hair?”

I get a fair number of comments about my hair on a given day, but I don’t know if I’ve had someone not understand it before, and then blurt out a question in what I think is fair to describe as a pretty rude verbal construction. The guy is Mission hipster-type and a poet to boot, so it’s not like I can blame it on some sort of cultural or generational disconnect. I blinked at him and said, “It’s…curly?” in the hopes that might clear some things up for him.

I thought about it a bit on the way home that night, and at first I thought he was just being snarky, or maybe he’s just an outright dick. But then it occurred to me…maybe he’s actually more socially awkward than me. Maybe stupid shit comes out of his mouth at inopportune times, too. I don’t know what the reason might be. What I do know is that I’m not the one who said something stupid to a co-worker this year, and that’s about as close to an xmas miracle as I’ve ever experienced.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Failure of the Day: Sickday!

I can’t remember the last time I had a cold. That might be only real perk of telecommuting for me—complete lack of human interaction keeps a person pretty well germ free. Only a month into the office Petri dish and I caught a doozy. I milked it to the best of my—let’s face it—ample ability, coughing and sneezing and whimpering ever so softly, looking up at Chris through runny eyes and saying “Doesn’t seeing me like this just break your heart?” until he brought me some soup and Reese’s peanut butter trees.

So today I’m home, swaddled in my fuzzy green bathrobe and leaving a trail of balled up Kleenexes in my wake. Bored, slightly sleepy, a bit grumpy and smelly. Nothing better to do than write a blog.

Lately, I’ve been listening to all the music on my iPod in alphabetical order by song title. I tell you, it’s the best mix tape I’ve ever heard. The letter I is a particular favorite; not so surprising, I guess. You may notice that the playlist is a little Mountain Goats–heavy. That’s because I now have a full seven albums of theirs loaded on there. I think every letter begins and ends with a Mountain Goats song. You should be so lucky.

I Corinthians 13: 8-10—Mountain Goats
I Don’t Know—The Replacements
I Don’t See You—Camper Van Beethoven
I Feel Beautiful—Robyn Hitchcock
I Wanna Be Loved—Elvis Costello
I Want to Vanish—Elvis Costello
I Want You—Elvis Costello
I Will Dare—The Replacements
I Will Follow You into the Dark—Death Cab for Cutie
I Will Grab You by the Ears—Mountain Goats
I.O.U.—The Replacements
Idylls of the King—Mountain Goats
If You Were a Priest—Robyn Hitchcock
In Bloom—Nirvana
In the Backseat—Arcade Fire
In the Garage—Weezer
Inflammatory Writ—Joanna Newsom
Insurance Fraud #2—Mountain Goats
International Small Arms Traffic Blues—Mountain Goats
Invisible Kid—Metallica
Is This It?—The Strokes
Island Garden Song—Mountain Goats
It Froze Me—Mountain Goats

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Failure of the Day: Words

Yeah, so it turns out it’s hard to find time to write with the whole commute to work in another town thing. Time management lessons in progress; bear with me.

As I’ve said before, I like talking about comic books, but I don’t much like reading them. I find it irritating to have to stop looking at those endlessly fascinating and beloved things, words, to look at a drawing of something.

I am nevertheless thoroughly enjoying Black Hole. It would be hard to imagine a story more suited to my particular perversions. Still though, the drawings…I find myself longing for the novel version of the story, something in which the guy didn’t rely on a drawing of a character’s reaction and had to actually describe it. And let’s face it OK? I am almost certainly going to find myself divorced and friendless for this, but it’s not like they’re even very good drawings. I mean, the drawings are interesting and fine for what they are, but c’mon. A drawing in a comic of a face showing an emotion just doesn’t compare to the paragraph that, say, Sherman Alexie could write about that emotion. Or am I just completely lost to verbal chauvinism?

During my train rides though, because I don’t feel like toting around a thick hardback, I’m reading The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq. I’ve been interested in him for a while; he comes up often enough on ALDaily—he really gets those humanities profs in a tizzy. I was a little intimidated at first; I expected it to be tougher going than it is. But the translation is surprisingly readable, and when all is said in done, it’s just garden variety misanthropy and nihilism. It's pretty easy to make the profs all frothy, it turns out.

Lord knows, I love me some misanthropy and nihilism, but this isn’t the fun Martin Amis kind, with show-offy linguistic pyrotechnics and some genuine if fleeting sweetness. It’s the grueling, relentless, depressing kind in which a small burst of contempt serves as a page’s only bright spot.

You'd think after finishing the graphic novel about teenagers becoming disfigured from a hideous plague and the literary novel about how life is an endless succession of humiliation and disappointment, I'd want to read something cheerful. Last time I tried that though, it didn’t work out so well…I read the title story in Me Talk Pretty One Day on a bus coming home from work in Seattle, got into a laughing fit, and made a complete spectacle of myself. So I’m sticking with the depressing books—at least they don’t make me look like a lunatic in public.