Archive for January, 2011

David Foster Wallace and Mary Karr Get It Oooooonnnnn

January 29, 2011

“Ill advised though it is, I start trolling for a beau –– forget the semaphores Patti flaps in warning before my face.  Reading St. Augustine’s memoir, I come across his seminal line: Give me chastity, Lord.  But not yet.

Which is my battle cry by the time David of halfway-house fame shows up.  He leaves Boston to rent a boxy monk’s cell spitting distance from my house.  Ponytailed David with his gangster Timberland boots and red bandana holding his head together.  Not yet thirty, with the habit of referring to his less than bright local bed partners in meetings as the Bimbo Brigade, David must’ve seen me –– a single mom in academia –– as some final doorway toward a cleaned-up act.

He’d looked like an old friend when he’d first rolled in that summer with a pal.  Both were shopping for a cheap place to hole up while finishing freelance writing projects they’d taken advances for.  (A prodigy like David did Harvard philosophy as a mere detour.)  Over cheap Chinese, we all sat for hours reording green tea and bowls of deep-fried whatnot till fortune cookie slips confettied the linoleum booth top.

Back in Boston, we’d always talked books –– nobody had read more than David.  When I’d whined in early meetings about not writing, from across the room, he’d shoot a conspiratorial grimace.  He edited Joan’s dissertation before it was published, and a year later, he and I even swapped and slashed up each other’s first, sober work.  But he’d seemed like a stray and forlorn undergrad on Easter when Warren and I had invited him over.

In Syracuse, I must bat my eyes at him or fluff my hair like some cartoon seductress (What a ma-yan!), for right after, David starts packing my mailbox with bulging envelopes.  Logorrheic, he calls himself.  Words just pour from his pen.  His yards-long letters come handprinted in weensy, meticulous mouse type, painstakingly footnoted.  Soon he’s pleading his troth, signing his missives Young Werther (after a tragic swain in a book and opera, with a crush on an older woman.)

David is the only guy rash enouhg ever to get my name tattooed on his bicep –– in a heart with a banner.  Even before we’ve kissed on the lips, he does this.  Watching those flesh-colored band-aids peel off in a phalanx to show an arm scarred and bloodied, a thinking woman would’ve hied for the hills.  My response is more pitiful.  I think, Wow, he might really like me –– a thought nobody past grade five gets to have about anything bigger than a hamster.  I plant a big wet Texas mouth on his.

It’s a sad testament to my virtue that an inked-up arm is all it really takes to bed me.  (As one friend said later, You gotta love a date willing to do stuff he’ll regret.)  Proof of David’s undying conviction, I take it as, though Lecia points out cynically that any Mary tattoo need only Blessed Virgin carved above it for reason to remount its throne.  That and David’s move to my block prove, in my moronic head, some divine power’s orchestrating our future together.

For a week or so, it’s bliss.  Any night I don’t have Dev, David and I smoke cigars in our tree fort or read Russian short stories aloud till dawn.  We watch movies where stuff blows up exclusively.  Within the month, he phones Mother to announce, Mrs. Karr, I plan to marry your daughter.  Mother’s heartless comeback: Didn’t you just get out of some place?

Then one day, almost like a switch is thrown in us both, reality sets in, turning the whole deal inside out.  I’m raking leaves, waiting to borrow David’s car for after-school pickup, but he slides alongside the curb, rolls down his window, and announces he’s going to the gym instead.

Can’t I drop you at the gym and then get Dev? I want to know.

David prefers to pick up Dev himself, then work out.

But I’m trying to shelter Dev from David’s presence in my life, which David resents.  He wants to plug into the husband slot right away.  Words get sharp.  I throw down the rake and stalk inside.  He follows.

The ensuing fight rocks the rafters –– a worse tussle than Warren and I ever dragged through.  And soon our every day is a rage, the whole romantic endeavor flip-flopping from cuss fight to smoochy-faced makeup –– the reversals coming too fast to get down in a diary.  When Dev’s home, I won’t let David sleep over, which pisses him off to no end, as does my leaving early from a research trip he takes me on.  I’m mad he doesn’t fit into the slot marked reliable.

(Of course, his temper fits are as vivid to me now as my own are invisible.  No doubt he was richly provoked, for I’m nothing if not sharp-tongued in a fight, and however young he was, neither was I in shape to partner anybody.)

If David enters the mindset he calls black-eyed red-out, he’s inclined to hurl all manner of object –– book and backpack, not least.  And as a verbal opponent, he’s a colossus, once driving me to the lowest of schoolyard attacks –– personal appearance: At least I’m not a four-eyed, broke-nosed fop was one of the many sentences I had to apologize for.

Not that anything I utter warrants his pitching my coffee table at me, my sole piece of intact furniture splintering on the wall.  After, I ring a lawyer girlfriend to send him a bill for it.  He fires off a check with a note arguing that since he’s paid for the table, isn’t it his?  I shoot back that the table’s still mine, but he’ll own its brokenness for perpetuity.

(Years later, we’ll accept each other’s longhand apologies for the whole debacle and resume the correspondence that held the better angels of our natures.)

Disaster, my teacher Bob explained to me once, can translate as something wrong with the stars.  Our stars –– David’s and mine –– badly misalign, yet we can’t escape each other’s orbits.  He climbs on my balcony and bangs on the bedroom window.  I slip heartfelt notes under his windshield wiper.  Coming across each other at a meeting, we wind up making out in the parking lot.

By Thanksgiving, we’ve both changed our phone numbers to escape each other’s stalkeresque calls, and we’re burnt out enough to let go, though we’ll reconnect for a few sloppy goodbyes before he moves away that spring.”

 

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Evolution

January 27, 2011

A super cool store.

Gift of the Day

January 26, 2011

“When his father was imprisoned by the Russian authorities for his political activities, the 8-year-old Vladimir [Nabokov] brought a butterfly to his cell as a gift.”

From an article in today’s New York Times entitled “Nonfiction: Nabokov Theory on Butterfly Evolution is Vindicated.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/science/01butterfly.html?src=me&ref=general

A Letter I Received

January 26, 2011

My boyfriend’s mother did this thing called Donors Choose for me, which is a charity that allows you to choose who gets the money you donate (hence the name.)  Mrs. Mom-of-Boyfriend gave part of my money to a classroom in Brooklyn that needed new Netbooks and publishing programs.  Yesterday, I got a package of thank you letters from the students.  The following is my favorite:

Dear ID,

You are the best people ever!  You will change me and my classmates life at school.  You’ll never know thankful I am for letting us have two netbooks, ink and large sized newspaper and magazines.  The two extra netbooks will give my classmate more chances to research the ink to print homework and stuff, and the large sized newspapers/magazines, so we can act like real newspaper publishers and editors.

I am lighthearted to have this website.  The items is going to make our life easier and more funner than ever.  If there wasn’t someone like you, we’d never have a better life.  Oh, thank you so much, ID.  You have already change our life.  You’re the best!

Yours Truly,

Naziha

 

Now my problem is… do I throw these cute little notes away?  There was definitely a Seinfeld about this…

DFW, Continued

January 24, 2011

“It brings me up short –– his outlaw wardrobe paired with the obsequious ma’am thing –– and I say testily, Are you fucking with me?

No ma’am, he say, his hands flying to his T-shirted chest.

Then it strikes me that he’s just a shy kid from the Midwest raised to say ma’am like I do to every waitress and dry cleaner.  We scuttle inside like a pair of field mice from our inept exchange.

Back in my chair, the filter of my head notices how people keep talking about being grateful, as in I’m so happy to be thankful to be grateful to sit here with you nice sober folks. I look around and think, Your lives must suck worse even than mine if this constitutes fun for you.

Eventually, I raise my hand high enough to get called on.  I announce that I doubt I’m an alcoholic, since I never drink in the mornings, and nothing particularly bad has ever happened to me –– not bankruptcy, car wreck, nor even the standard mugging.  While I expect some indictment, everyone smiles that sugary smile I mistrust and nods, and the lady next to me whispers, Keep coming.

At the end, when everybody grabs hands to pray, it’s like some dreary ring-around-the -rosy, and I refuse to mouth the words, instead gaping around at who’s dopey enough to go along.  The musician and his friend do, and the professor, Perfectly smart people,  talking to air with grave expressions.  Go figure.

On the way out, I pass bandana’ed David talking with great speed and animation to the musician.  David’s actually holding up his finger in some Confucian posture, saying, It’s a logical fallacy that they’re telling me I have a disease whose defining symptom is believing you don’t have a disease, since this a priori implies that any citizen who denies they have this ailment is no doubt infected…

Like me, he’s obviously here to educate them to their cult’s fallacious thinking.”

 

DFW From Another Angle

January 24, 2011

“The door opens a crack, and in the spilled, triangular glow, a tall kid wearing a red bandana over his streaming brown hair slips out. He stops six feet away and bends slightly forward –– almost a butler’s bow –– saying, Excuse me, Miss Karr. Mind if I join you?

Who is he? With his formal demeanor and gold granny glasses, he could be a student –– some Ivy League suck-up.

Join away, I say, adding as I flash my wedding ring, I’m a miz.

My goodness gracious, ma’am, he says, those are some seriously blinding stones you’re flaunting. We met before…

And we had. David was a Harvard Ph.D. candidate in philosophy I’d once been introduced to at the back of a reading by mutual pals. Some kind of genius, David’s meant to be, though his red bandana is the flag of gangster or biker, ditto the unlaced Timberland work boots.

I ask him how long he’s been coming, and he says not hardly any time, and I say it’s my first go, and he asks if I get it, and I say if I got it, I would be out here smoking. He says same with him, adding while he drank a lot, he mostly did marijuana, which can’t be so bad because it’s natural.

I say –– cleverly, I think –– Strychnine’s natural.

He concedes that’s true but also points out how, since the average pot smoker doesn’t tend to steal your TV, people don’t frown on it like they do, say, smoking crack, then plowing over the crossing guard.

We stare at the cannons facing us, both agreeing we really have better places to be as we grind our cigarettes with our boot heels. Climbing the steps back to the lighted doorway, he holds the door, bowing as he says from his scruffily bearded face (this is the pre-scruff USA.) After you, Miz Karr.

–– Mary Karr, Lit

To be continued… !!!

Speaking of Admiring

January 20, 2011

I love this picture so much. I think because I want to be this girl.

Reluctantly Admiring

January 19, 2011

I never was a big Marilyn Monroe fan, as I didn’t think she’d done anything all at interesting aside from be voluptuous, but the more I read about her, the more smitten I am.

“Even though I was born [in Los Angeles], I still can’t think of one good thing to say about it.  If I close my eyes and picture LA, all I see is one big varicose vein.” 

~From “The Beautiful Child,” published in the book Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote

Fashion Blogging for the Apocalypse

January 13, 2011

As the apocalypse is nigh, what with birds falling from the skies and crabs dying in droves and Sandra Bullock winning an Oscar, I figure it’s time for me to cash out, so this blog will now become a FASHION BLOG.  I’ve considered this before, but now I’m really going for it.  Words will be kept to a minimum.  Instead I will just put up gratuitous vanity shots of myself reclined on velvet couches or looking playfully down at a Givenchy wedge or even a close up of me making a duck pout, eyes lined with thick Kohl, little fingers brandishing fat sterling rings like I was some mobster out of Brighton Beach.  My first photo shoot will be tomorrow before I go over to my favorite bar at El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel.  I will wear a light blue turban I swiped from my roommate (sh!), a black leotard, patterned Wolford tights, a long black skirt with gold detailing, Chanel patent leather gold and black wedge heels, twenty-four multi-colored bangles, a fur coat that is ripping at the seams (Recession Chic!  This is a new level of Bobo style) and my favorite accessory: a tear drawn with a Sharpie beneath my left eye.  Nothing says FASHION! like a criminal record.

The end is coming, my friends.  Let’s look freaky.

HOLOCAUST DREAM

January 7, 2011

My friend MH had a Holocaust dream in which I had a cameo.  She makes sure all her gchats are off the record, so I forced her to retell me the story so I could capture her voice. 

 MH:  ah ok
So basically
first I was packing up a lot of stuff
and trying to throw away stuff
and there was a major sense of anxiety and limit on time
then, it was like omg the nazi are coming
gun shots, trucks etc

and then we were trying to hide in a closet
but i couldn’t fit in the spot
so then u were like – oh i can fit in here
and then u took my hiding spot
then i woke up!

Yo, Dream Me is a BITCH!