Twitter me a Tweet, Boz

March 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell walking up the High Street, Edinburgh, from a print by Thomas Rowlandson, 1786. "Mr Johnson and I walked Arm in Arm up the High Street to my House in James Court; it was a dusky night; I could not prevent his being assailed by the Evening effluvia of Edinburgh." As we marched along he grumbled in my ear "I smell you in the dark."

Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell walking up the High Street, Edinburgh, from a print by Thomas Rowlandson, 1786. "Mr Johnson and I walked Arm in Arm up the High Street to my House in James Court; it was a dusky night; I could not prevent his being assailed by the Evening effluvia of Edinburgh." As we marched along he grumbled in my ear "I smell you in the dark."

I read that celebrities are now hiring people to ghostwrite their twitter entries. I don’t mean ‘now hiring’ as in send in your resume. I’m sure they have the requisite flunkies on hand, or if they didn’t before the Times piece, they do now. Young assistant or actual freelance writer composes, publicist OKs, star is informed of what he/she said if it has any likelihood of ever being quoted, and all the little people realize that access to the real private lives of the famous is not in fact available at the click of a mouse. You still have to put the hours in. Stalking is not a lazy man’s art.

Social networks are for our own grubby networking (and fun, yes, that too) and I’m not expecting to network with movie stars or Barack Obama. I know I’m the perfect person to help him with the new book; he may be a fantastic writer but he’s kind of busy these days. I could bring that rare “I’m not a speechwriter” quality to the manuscript, but I doubt Twitter will land me an interview. Maybe if I saved one of his kids from drowning? Oh yeah, they already have people for that. And it’s too late to become a dog psychic. That’s the sort of business you have to start when people are itching to get rid of their cash and the dog won’t eat it.

The Times quoted 50 Cent’s twitter (something he actually said in an interview; his assistant plucked it for a tweet): “My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends.”

We could all use that sentiment, and that sentence, with a little tweaking.

“My sex addiction leads me through strange vaginas that never end.”

“My nostalgia leads me through a fictitious youth that never returns.”

“My mother-in-law leads me through a wilderness of stories that never discover their point though they do grow fainter when I leave the room.”

“My blogging leads me into digressions where I have to confess a lot more than I might otherwise in order to make the entry flow, so if I mention you and you don’t like it, send me a rewrite and I’ll consider it.”*

  • This is not a paid position.

I find I journalize too tediously. Let me try to abbreviate.

~James Boswell

Saturday, Named after The God who ate his Children

March 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Swan Nebula, taken by the Hubble Telescope

The Swan Nebula, taken by the Hubble Telescope

They turned up the gravity in my body. There’s a switch for it.

I’m too depressed to work on my novel, or go out on this beautiful Saturday, or call anyone.  I’ve already tried vodka, chocolate and trash fiction. I’m typing this sentence because I hope it will lead somewhere better and already I feel that little excitement in the words, like a dog when you take its leash off the hook. When I was a very young writer and the only things I knew for sure were the things I didn’t want to admit to anyone, I thought I could just play with words and phrases like paints, that the beauty of the sounds and associations were enough. If I’d been a musician—but I was much too lazy to be a musician—

There are reasons to be depressed and just as many not to be. My husband, after many years of marriage, suggested to me once that maybe the reasons came after the fact. I remember feeling defensive and embarrassed; mostly afraid I was nothing but a walking storm of unhappiness. And I didn’t even know what a terrible thing that is to be, that the weight of the world’s unhappiness has always been outrageous.

People have believed in astrology for thousands of years because it’s just common sense to think the planets are yanking us, swatting us into orbit, or collapsing on top of us. Nothing else is big enough to create such effects.

I would like someone to knock on my door and ask for help,  preferably something physical. What’s the difference between that and calling my friends to see who would like help with something? Simply that I feel that to be asked would snap me out of this, while to offer would be an admission of need, and my need is too great and diffuse and primitive…it could only lead to me jumping on someone’s back and dragging them under with me.

Note to self: they can fight back.
Re: note to self: that’s what I’m afraid of.

It has calmed me to write this. A blog is an amazing thing. It’s not a letter requiring response. No one pays for it; no one is owed. Yet it’s a step outside the monotonous washing machine of diary writing. When you clip the leash on the dog’s collar what does it expect? Around the block, same old story. Better than nothing.

Wordcamp, Miami

February 23, 2009 § 4 Comments

Me, tree

Me, tree

Yesterday I went to Wordcamp in Miami, a WordPress conference at the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove and listened to a presentation by Jim Turner about how to make a living blogging, and another by David Bisset about the new WordPress brainchild BuddyPress (buddypress.org) which is a platform for building your own social networking site from a WordPress multiple user blog. The latter sounded fun and gave me visions of starting the next Facebook and owning reams of personal information that would allow me to rule the world, but unfortunately I can’t even start an MU site, since very few of my friends will start or stick with a blog. And even if they did, I’m not sure they’d want to be associated with this one.

The advice on making money was about attaching oneself to a corporate PR department, pitching your ability to reach the online universe. (For a fulltime position, expect a salary range of 30k-100k). Most of the attendees were techie experts of one kind or another, or considered themselves such. Turner was asked whether Fortune 500 companies would hire a blogger for this kind of work and he advised to steer clear of the big guys, because in that kind of company, “you submit a post to one editor, who shows it to someone else, who runs it by a third, who sends it to legal, then back down the chain and by the time you see it again, it’s unrecognizable.”* I’ve had freelance jobs where the same thing happened and I was working for a solo professional. Turner was also asked how to have your blog show up on Google and suggested writing good content. I like a man who sticks to the basics.

* this is not a word-for-word quote, but as I remember it.

The focus was on success yet I felt far less fear of the future than I do in New York. The Great Depression of the 21st Century, the Clusterf*ck To The Poorhouse as Jon Stewart so memorably calls it, seemed to exist elsewhere, though I have no doubt everyone present was figuring it into his plans. Certainly driving around Miami and later through Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, we saw lots of empty storefronts, the kind where the sign is still up, and the plate glass window and dusty floors have a distinctly confused look, as if the whole business including proprietor collapsed into a black hole one afternoon without warning.

My husband says that kind of gathering—Wordcamp, not the empty storefronts—makes him feel like he’s allowed to be young, not finished yet, to be the explorer and not the authority. I’ve been feeling that way for some time. My heart’s Mickey Rourke and my body’s a collection of symptoms waiting for the inspiration of disease, but my imagination has been weirdly rejuvenated, even cosmically charged, and I would like to formally thank all the gods and powers I devoted myself to in my adolescence. Since then, I’ve fallen into rationality, but maybe I’m getting my reward for that long ago surrender.

After the conference we went to Fairchild Garden and got intimate with the Ficus Banyan trees*, which are no longer allowed to be planted in Miami-Dade county because they destroy indigenous species. You can tell that just by looking at them—how they spread out, branches growing aerial roots down to earth, adding trunk segments like extra rooms, porches, illegal apartments. Left alone, they can cover several acres. In the city, they’re notorious for breaking pavement and sidewalks, sewer systems; one woman had a tree emerge from her toilet, like the tackiest of horror movies. I don’t know the details on that story but I like to think she was away from home for a few months and returned to find the tree fully dominant, admiring itself in the mirror over the sink while tender roots cascaded into the bath.

*Ficus benghalensis, family Moraceae.
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Portuguese, from Gujarati vāṇiyo ‘man of the trading caste,’ from Sanskrit. Originally denoting a Hindu trader or merchant, the term was applied by Europeans in the mid 17th cent. to a particular tree under which such traders had built a pagoda.
(From my Spotlight Dictionary.)

Astrology and Penises

January 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’m beginning to think what MSNBC needs is an astrology pundit show (in the slot after Rachel, we don’t need Keith twice) so all the intricate parsing of the day’s events could be livened up with discussions of what Mercury retrograde will do to the President’s Blackberry and what effect the coming eclipse (Jan 26; you have to be in African, Antarctica or Australia to see it) will have on our  alpha Leo. Here’s my prediction, for what it’s worth: Obama won’t get 100 days to prove himself, much less the couple of years the press has been nattering about, but more like a week and a half. Already he’s closed Gitmo and bombed Pakistan. If he can cut taxes, pass universal health care, outfit Air Force One with solar panels and get the girls their puppy before the end of the month, the country will sigh and start shopping for valentines.

So, okay, the stimulus bill, what’s supposed to save the banks, our jobs, savings and houses: that little thing. The early draft sounds like those sex guides that define foreplay as caressing all the erogenous zones (there are so many more than you thought!) repeatedly—and never once mention what might be called the art of it: narrative, strategy, precision. I know Congress is out of its depth. Brains aren’t passed out at the door. They just want to make us and their donors and the lobbyists and the President happy, and not be made fun of on TV. They’re not potted plants, as Tom Lantos once said. (Not Axelrod—he said that the cabinet members aren’t potted plants). All I can say is, Can you help the girls find their dog?

Philip expressed his pleasure with my post yesterday about respecting his (and others’) privacy. It kind of makes me want to upload a picture of his dick. But dick pix are everywhere, and his isn’t two pronged like a kangaroo, nor bullet proof like Obama’/s inauguration suit. (http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/01/president-oba-1.html) It’s just mostly perfect, like the private parts of every man I’ve ever slept with who might be reading this blog, but of course more perfect than most.

(As for Charles, he’s spoken for himself, most eloquently, in a recent comment. He knows how perfect he is.)

My Privates

January 22, 2009 § 2 Comments

I’ve been considering what level of openness regarding my personal life I want for this blog. People have raised issues—hurt feelings, privacy—that have made me uncomfortable, though not surprised. I was in therapy and AA for years, so the personal spills easily. And I’m a novelist, so raw emotion and peculiar human detail seems like the good stuff, what I hate to let go of even if I know it will upset someone. Not that I don’t have boundaries; there are plenty of things I’d never put in here, though the writer in me salivates. And I know exactly where the boundaries should stay to keep my loved ones happy, but I can’t help wanting to move the goalposts a little.

I find my sexual and emotional life an endless source of comedy. This isn’t because I haven’t cried several rivers, but because I have and so what. My boyfriend’s pretzel of a psyche, my husband’s Man-Who-Fell-to-Earth oddity spark enormous tenderness in me, yet there have been many times over the years when one or another has lain beside me, disgorging secrets and dreams, revealing astonishing delusions (like the ones you and I have) while I repeated the words in my head, memorizing the turns of phrase, thinking, What a character he’ll make someday.

I thought that ‘someday’ I’d be disconnected from one or another.

“I don’t want to censor you, but you can’t expect me not to have a reaction.”

“You have to write what you want—you have to—but can’t I tell you how I feel?”

Well, okay. I guess the appropriate cautionary tale is Nixon and the White House tapes. He probably didn’t get the novelistic splendor of it all, but he knew the joys of the raw meat moment. General This and Senator That, talking shit. You want to preserve and protect. You don’t want to be kicked out of the place of privilege.

Underwater

November 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

Oh dear. I meant to blog at least every other day, but Thanksgiving and Florida have undone that resolution. That edge of loneliness and despair impelling me to reach out to faceless dozens has been soothed by Charles’ loving presence, and finally a decent set-up in the kitchen. I made cranberry muffins this morning from a recipe in a falling-apart 50 yr old Fannie Farmer cookbook, and we ate them while watching Al Gore on Oprah talk about the end of the world. On the map Al made the piece of Florida where we were sitting disappear underwater and as my eyes strayed back to Oprah’s perfect bronze-black curls I felt already underwater: hearing the ex-veep dimly, sensing the storm overhead, entranced by the hum of deep water. As a child and teenager I was so interior I barely noticed how the world worked, even when it directly impinged on me. Necessity and loneliness have taken care of that, but I wonder what I have gained. I know more, see more, but not enough to succeed in my enterprises, and I have lost the joy and space inside my head. I remember moving around in my consciousness as if in a landscape bounded at the back by a forest—which I am now reminded of by the dense foliage of Oprah’s hair— getting close to the forest and thinking it went on forever. I worried that if I went too far, I’d never come back to our house, dinner, my mother.

I thought I could explore that part of myself later. And in my 20’s and 30’s it was still there, but felt more alien, clearly dangerous, hinting of mystic wisdom and psychotic drift, and what the difference was, and whether I make choices after taking the first step wasn’t clear. It should be noted that I also didn’t want to experience anything close to ‘God’ or ‘The Good’ as that would entail responsibilities I didn’t want. And now? My brain feels corroded, as rust-eaten as our old ’68 Ford Torino when we abandoned it in Charlottesville in 1979. If I desired to go anywhere beyond this ordinary consciousness, I’d have to practice, focus and sweat—and still let go of what I don’t want to let go of, my precious selfishness.

So I live dimly in the world, which is being changed, changed utterly, as I write. I can’t honestly say I want to be more engaged. As to what I owe human society that has given me so much: I’m afraid it wasn’t a wise investment. I’m like a house cat that catches the occasional mouse (which in fact I do; I’m good at catching mice), but generally prefers sleep.

No. It’s Florida doing this to me. I’ll wake up again. I hope.

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