Monday, January 26, 2009

There's Good-ish News and Bad News

I've registered for a coaching certification class this coming weekend. Friday, 4 hours. Saturday, 10 hours. Sunday, 6 hours. That's a tad crazy, don't you think? Not One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but something more Shirley MacLaine-esque. Should I wear a turban? Maybe just for warm-ups. At the end of the marathon, instead of a crown of thorns, I'll receive an E Certificate, which will reassure concerned parents and high school athletic directors that I can tie my own shoes and stamp an envelope in a timely fashion.

I guess I'm a sports elitist/egomaniac. What the hell can this guy, Ric (note the absence of the 'k' - idiot!), teach me about coaching that I haven't learned on my own (from the internet)? The clinic is in the gymnasium of a Catholic elementary school! Ha! More sanctimonious-ness! On the other hand, as I said a while back, it's time to gussy up my resume with items that don't include "statistical control" and "plasma etch." Or, alternately, "diaper" and "Lego." E Certificate is a place to start.

But, now the bad news. I joined the Y. And I started jogging on the treadmill. And I jog in front of a giant window that reflects my own image back at me. And there's nothing on TV except Family Guy and bad NBA games, and anyway when I watch TV I have a tendency to veer off-course which isn't bad on a sidewalk, but can have disastrous effects on a treadmill. (I'm stalling, because I'm embarrassed about what comes next.) I've made a very troubling discovery: I run knock-kneed. I don't/can't say anything more about this yet, except to say that it's as if someone told Miles Davis his horn is always flat. Can you fix a flat horn? Maybe, but suddenly Miles is thinking back to Kind of Blue, going, "Fuck. I sold a million copies of an album that was flat?" It's very much like that.

So now you know two things: I run funny, and I equate my athletic prowess to Miles Davis's musical abilities. Not a proud day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Sentiments, Exactly

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On metaphors.

Lately, in lieu of actual writing (where words are put on paper, not including milk, bread, my signature on an Old Navy Visa charge, etc.), I've been generating metaphors. This is like writing, in that it takes creativity and a certain amount of literate brain cells, but it's totally bullshit cheating. A metaphor is not a device I use in my writing, like ever. Because I think it's bullshit cheating. Unless the metaphor so obtuse that I've completely lost the point, and by the end of the book I can't remember if a broken jukebox in a bowling alley was supposed to be like life or supposed to be like death and whether or not that even applies to the kid with the garbage bag taped over his car window, and by the way, was the garbage bag supposed to be a metaphor for his ambition or his relationship with his brother?

See, it's cheating (or trying too hard ex post facto), because it's totally unintended. The kid's kind of a low-life, and one night after drinking too much at Ole's he busts out his passenger window with a brick because he thought he locked his keys in his car, when in fact they're still in his dirty down vest, left back in the bar. So then, fuck 'em. The metaphors, I mean. What should I do, go back and plant busted car windows in other scenes with other wandering low-lifes, so that the image is driven home and it's clear to my three-year-old that I'm using a Literary Technique? Nobody wants that. And nobody wants to read a story wherein every visual detail has a tacit asterisk next to it: *may be a metaphor - be vigilant!

But then, every once in a while a really good one hits me - too good to not repeat. But try rolling over on your beach chair at a Mexican resort and saying to your sunbathing sister-in-law, "I think clouds are a little like life. You're staring up at something that looks like a T-Rex with bunny ears and you're watching watching watching, the bunny ears growing bigger and his little baby arms are turning into something more like pom-poms and then you notice his tail has become larger than his body, and all this is over the course of about 15 minutes and then you look away to take a sip of your Pacifico and you look back and Holy Hell! The T-Rex is something completely different and you can kind of pick out his big muzzle and rabbit ears but he's dwarfed into something more like a school bus with big meaty tires and fat guy sitting on the top. Life is like that, if you don't stop to sip your Pacifico often enough." And your sister-in-law gives you that 'You're so funny' thing that doesn't include a laugh, which means something more like 'what the hell, you're weird,' and you realize, you can't just pull a metaphor out of your ass and throw it at the closest person and have them react in satisfactory manner.

Metaphors have to have a context. They have to be a touch stone, or whatever that metaphor is. You can't just throw a headless metaphor out into polite conversation like a Transformer at a zoologist convention. The good ones need some air. They need a person, a tragedy, a sunset color, the taste of a good meal. There's too much going on the world to just say, "dinner was salty." Salty, really? How clever! No, it's gotta be, "dinner made me feel as if I'd been waterboarded with a bucket from the Dead Sea." (I know - simile. Bwah.) So for the sake of all the metaphors, I've decided to find them a home. I'm going to make a place for them, nourish them and let them exist outside my mind. So what if they're a bonafide Literary Technique. So is punctuation. But nothing fancy and obtuse. That would mean I'm actually trying, and shit. Once you start trying, the expectations. Well, that's all. There would be expectations.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My resume needs What Not to Wear.

See that profile picture over there to the right? That's what you call the bait and switch. Or False Advertising. There aren't a lot of tan, buff people in Missoula these days, unless you head out to the suburbs. The sun must shine out there a lot more than on the crunchy people in my neighborhood. And what do they put in the water out there that makes all their teeth so white? Me and my yellow-toothed, glow-in-the-dark friends
will just go back to our little houses next to noisy rentals and laugh at them and their beautiful bodies. Fuckers.

Anyway, about the bait and switch, so goes my resume. I gotta get a job. My resume is jam-packed with great work history and impressive degrees that are as relevant to my ideal career path as mid-east peace was to George Bush. Well, maybe not that bad (nobody will die or starve from my 1998-2003 employment), but I don't want to be an engineer any more. Ever again. Please, let's not talk about it. The thought of creating a statistical process control spreadsheet makes the bile rise in my throat. What is that? Oh, yes. Hives. I remember now.

So I'm going to add a few creative touches to my work history. I'll give it a little spray-on tan, have it do a couple situps and maybe some squats, and then take it out to the clubs. It'll chat gaily and make witty banter with the guys working on the electrical panel by the beer freezer. It'll look so suave, in its sensible shoes and too-high-waisted pants, I'm sure it will garner interest from all the right people. The club management. And they will ask me to fix their HVAC. I gotta move my resume to the suburbs.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Resolving to suck, somehow.

The Office was a rerun last night. It was Toby's send-off party and Michael was preparing to conduct Toby's exit interview. When the new HR woman and the receptionist (I clearly don't watch often) joined him, his plan to smear and degrade Toby was foiled. Hilarity ensued.

Michael had prepared a few questions on notecards, which he reluctantly read aloud, in front of the group. First, "Who do you think you are?" read with as little enthusiasm as possible. Toby's response: "Toby." Second, "What gives you the right?" Toby's response: ... Then Toby opened his parting gift, which was a rock that said "Suck on this."

And so today, after 112 hours confined to the house with semi-sick kids and a pre-occupied husband, I was convinced life threw the "Suck on this" rock at my forehead. I'm mad at all of them for the things they do, and as I constructed the elaborate arguments and accusations in my head, I realized it all sounded like Michael, railing against a harmless HR guy. If I were to utter them out loud, they would be as effective and accusatory as Michael's "What gives you the right?" - read in a calm voice, drawing out the 'you,' accent on 'right.' It sounds like nothing, ridiculous tiny fists, flung at a stuffed Curious George.

I've been asked three times in the last week if I'm still writing. If it was you that asked, I lied. I'm not. I've half-finished a couple stories that are not good. I've got four stories I've put in one basket, and they've squashed each other and are beginning to stink like rotten eggs. I'm going through magazines like cheap toilet paper, submitting the same four stories and getting the same four rejections. I shovel the walk twice a day, complaining in my head about the time I had to shovel the walk when I was 6 months pregnant, complaining in my head that I had to put up the Christmas lights, complaining in my head that Kerry didn't cut my bangs quite short enough.

What the fuck, you idiot? What the fuck's wrong with you? Get over it, dumbass, and do something. Tell somebody else to shovel the walk for once and don't care if somebody else gets mad. Get over the Christmas light thing. It's been 12 years and by now what's the big surprise? Bangs? You're shitting me. You're fussing about fucking bangs? You're not writing because of what? That's what I thought - no reason. Life didn't throw you a rock - it threw you a gigantic gift basket from Harry and David, delivered by five hot guys who like to talk about their feelings and pop culture. And it's always your 22nd birthday (the one that's still fun, and you aren't made to drink Cement Mixers or Sex on the Beach until puke comes out your nose), and you won a Major Award that may or may not be a lamp fashioned from a fish-net-stockinged plastic leg. Dude (me), life is starting to get pissed and look around for a rock.

Here's my resolution for '09: What are you waiting for? Suck it up.