Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Wayward Spiral

This morning I woke up and felt like something was missing. I feel like this a lot of mornings upon waking, but usually it's just one of those "who am I and where do I belong" type conundrums that I forget about by lunchtime. Today there was something actual and concrete missing from my world and I couldn't figure out what it was.

I took my shower, brushed my teeth, got dressed. When I walked into my living room I noticed that I had left my hummus out on the coffee table overnight. So that must be it. I must have been feeling lost because I knew I had forgotten to do something semi-important the night before. It's the funniest thing too, because I can't tell for the life of me if the hummus went bad. It's got an overpowering smell to begin with so it's not like it suddenly smells rank like sour milk or something.

Anyway, I forgot about my emptiness for a while after I replaced the hummus in the fridge. Note to self: don't let any of your guests eat that hummus.

Then I packed up my books for class. Women's lit. Religion & film. Respective notebooks. Respective folders. Day planner. Journal. Journal. Journal? Bueller?

It was nowhere to be found. Not in desk drawers, not in closets, not under chairs or in my laundry basket. Not in the fridge with the spoiled (?) hummus. It was just simply gone. I didn't have time to look for too much longer so I began to walk nervously to class, feeling strangely like I wasn't wearing trousers or like I was sleepwalking the night before and unconsciously plucked off one of my eyebrows.

Now, reader, you must understand the importance of this, the mysterious disappearing notebook which eluded me so cunningly and cruelly this morning. I carry this notebook with me everywhere. I fill at least a page every day with some of my most vulnerable thoughts and musings. I've got song lyrics in it, poetry, hypothetical conversations between myself and people I love, even a really embarrassing sharpie cartoon drawing of Weezer.

What if someone finds it? I can't even imagine. I don't have my name in it. The closest ID stamp within the pages is a cartoon self-portrait that only vaguely resembles me. If someone were to find this notebook, he or she would have a field day leafing through pages and pages of my existence. He could steal all my good ideas and chastise the bad ones. He could read the most unfinished and sophomoric passages aloud to members of the English department.

The English department. Located in Marting Hall. I was in Marting Hall when I realized that literally every one of my classes this semester is in Marting Hall (the philosophy and religion departments are located here as well.) There was still an off chance that my spiral notebook could have found its way to one of the tables in the Union or the Cyber Cafe (where there are FOOTBALL PLAYERS! Eeesh!) but I've only eaten there three or four times this semester. It had to be in Marting.

Frantically, I ran up to Barb in the English office. Barb is one of those all-knowing secretaries that every institution seems to have one of. She's Superwoman. She's untouchable. She's probably got a third eye or something. Anyway, I talked to her and she showed me that the only item in the English "lost and found" was a yellow folder. But she told me to go upstairs and check the Religion office.

I've never run up that third flight of stairs faster in my life. And this is saying a lot because that third flight is a killer. The stairs in Marting are insanely steep because the engineers of this building all those decades ago must have thought that they needed to conserve space. Or maybe it was designed for the pygmy literati.

Anyway, I made it up the stairs and as soon as the secretary in the Religion Office put the defibrillator paddles back in her desk, I resumed normal breathing and from my reclined position on the floor I noticed, in a small printer paper box top under a table to my left...

my spiral notebook.

It's okay.

It's going to be okay.

I'm gonna go buy one of those child leashes now. Later.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dig the New Digs...

Here is a shot of the essence of the apartment. See how worldly we are? We're rocking an Indian throw over our decrepit recliner, a wooden Japanese sake set, a Costa Rican tablecloth (I think it's South American anyway), and out of this picture is some Chinese art that we've yet to hang. We also have a French painting which will also grace the wall somewhere.

Below is a view of John looking disapprovingly at my antique sake set.

Another view of the apartment at large...

My bed. I read and write and sleep here.

We have so many appliances. All of them are essential. Well, maybe not the ice shaver..,

Here is a shot of the kitchen, where we've got a huge fridge, a small (but mighty) stove, and much storage space.

My desk, tucked away behind a bureau. I like being hidden whilst I work.

So that's that. Come and visit sometime.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

In the van, with my friend

You never told me you were leaving
So I never thought to cry.
The concept of distance is deceiving
people grow closer
but that's not you and I.

Everybody says I'd love Chicago.
Maybe that's why I'm afraid to go.
I'd rather drown here in the wake you left behind,
wondering if it's better not to know.

You've got your own skyscrapers now.
I hope you never take your head out of the clouds.
I always knew you'd take off and fly
but not without saying goodbye.

It's pretty cold back here in Cleveland.
I turned my collar up today.
I passed three places where we might have stopped for coffee
back when our words still knew just how to melt the ice away.

If you happen to get carried away
by Chicago winds while you're walking down the street one day,
just think of me and I'm sure you'll be astounded
by how the ones you left behind can keep you grounded.

You've got your own skyscrapers now
I hope you never take your head out of the clouds.
I always knew you'd take off and fly
but not without saying goodbye.

This is another jealous song
But it's too late now because you're long gone.
You're bigger than this town could be
but are you so much better than me?

Are you so much better than me?
Is there something there that I can't see?

I don't know where that song came from but I really like it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Marissa V 2.0

I'm not going to dye my hair purple. I can say it's about the money but it's not. I have a friend who owns a hair salon who would most likely hook me up so that money shouldn't be too much of an issue. It's not because I'm not sure about the right color. They know their colors and they know what's going to look good on me and what isn't.

This whole thing comes down to cowardice. My fear looks funny in writing. I'm an eccentric person. I do weird things. People know this about me. A lot of people relate to me because I'm different. So why not look a little more unconventional on the outside? What difference will it make?

Why do I have such an irrational fear of being poor? I have plenty of money. Why do I suffer and moan through the afternoon without eating lunch? Why not just take a single bill out of my fattened wallet and cross the street to buy something off of the McDonald's dollar menu? Why am I afraid to eat McDonald's?

Lately I've felt like there's another person inside of me pestering my comfortable shell and making me question the way I live my life. I know that if I let that person be free I could do so many wonderful things. I might buy a truck with the money that I've been saving since I was six. I'd spend my afternoons driving around trying to find a job that would make me happy. Or maybe I wouldn't work. But I'd definitely drive. I'd jump in my car and take epic road trips across the country.

I'd drink and I'd stay out late. I'd learn, but I'd do so on my own terms. I wouldn't turn down my music at stop lights and I'd shop at actual stores---not thrift shops and markdown places. I'd make a movie--a feature length movie, and I'd make it with equipment that I bought. Top-of-the-line equipment. I'd be a Mac girl.

I'd stop being afraid of dancing. I'd learn how to swing dance and I'd get really good at it.

Maybe I would give comedy another shot. I don't know why I'm so reluctant to really invest myself in improv. I used to love it and be good at it. Confidence would never be a problem if I were the new me. Everything would roll off of my shoulders. And I'd stop worrying about impressing people. The new me would be impressive enough.

I wouldn't be afraid to throw stuff away. I don't know why I feel the need to collect, to capture and store and hoard memories. It's all just clutter. The new me would understand that and say goodbye to the extraneous.

I didn't wear socks today. I think maybe I wanted it to be easier for other versions of myself to slip out from under my feet like ringworms and take hold of my ankles, dragging and pushing me in new and exciting directions.

That's a ridiculous image, but the new me wouldn't care what you think of it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

If you give a girl a sharpie...

A new nerdy t-shirt, designed by me.

This time, I actually needed to use a ruler for some of the design. But it was drawn, not traced, since tracing was impossible with this thick dark fabric.

The "A" in the logo was the hardest part. Once I got that down, I knew the rest would be easier. The "n" in "Splendor" also proved to be quite difficult, especially on the ribbed material I was working with.

I copied the back design from a cell of an actual "American Splendor" comic. It's actually one of my favorites, even though the artwork isn't necessarily the best. I tried to copy the image exactly but it's tough to do. I take solace in the fact that everybody draws Harvey differently anyway.

There's our girl, sporting her latest creation. She made it in the driveway, stretching the shirt over a big piece of cardboard. She finished just as the sun was starting to set.

And there's a nice little back view. The real splendor in this picture is that fine geek physique.

Below is a gift for a good friend of mine who really digs the movie "Sideways." No ruler was used. All the letters were drawn by hand with two Sharpies.

The front design was copied from my DVD.

Anyway, those are my latest. I'm getting pretty good at it so I think I might start taking requests. My next big project is a shot of Joel and Clem from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I'm going to use the aerial shot of them on the ice. They'll be in the lower corner of a powder-blue t-shirt and the cracks will spread all the way up to where a pocket would be.

Before I get to that though, I might try practicing some other simpler stuff.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Goin' Cohen

Tonight I finally got to see the film "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man" at the Cedar Lee Theatre. It's a fantastic tribute to one of the greatest and most underappreciated songwriters of our time. I was particularly moved by his humility, his self-deprecating tendencies, his denial of what others call his genius. His lyrics are so poetic. I'm so glad that a few of the better musicians of my generation have picked up his songbook and continued to breathe life into it because his words really are timeless. This can be a good thing when he writes about the beauty of love, or it can be disheartening and painfully real when he writes about the torture and agony of war.

Anyway, I wrote a song tonight. I almost feel ridiculous putting it after a post about how wonderful Leonard Cohen is at writing songs. I just wanted to mention that I saw the movie and this is what follows that thought I suppose. It's no Cohen. But it's the best I can do for now. The other night I had a conversation with someone about having trouble seeing myself from the outside. I realize that this is becoming more of a problem as I get closer to "freedom" from my childhood home--as I get closer to my diploma, to my possible career, etc. So I wrote this song as a conversation with myself. I tried to open up a dialogue from me to me. It's also a bit of a thank-you note to the person whose actual conversation inspired it. I don't know how much I'm going to be able to learn from this song, but it felt good to write it. I guess a lot of my songs are like those letters that you write but never send.

I was startled by your honesty
"I'm lost," you said and I could see
the mounting fear,
a cavalier deterred.

You're the center of your universe
you said to me and so I'll sing it in the verse
so when you hear it from my lips instead
you'll swallow every word.

You're better than what's got the best of you.
You're smarter than the test you're going through.
Go out and get the debt that's owed to you.

You know I've got tea and sympathy
But as long as you've got time to drink with me
Then you've got time to think about
who you want to be.

This place you're in is dark and cold
You've told me shakily it's getting old
You're bottled so you might explode
Please, take it from me.

you're better than what's got the best of you.
You're smarter than the test you're going through.
Go out and get the debt that's owed to you.

For all your existential turmoil
there's somebody who can see
stones you never could have overturned alone
and that person could be me.

You're better than what's got the best of you.
You're smarter than the test you're going through.
Go out and get the debt that's owed to you.

Another note:
Parents who buy vehicles with televisions in the headrests do such a disservice to their children. Instead of having another extraneous flat screen tv, these kids should instead be spoiled with the rich American landscape. They should count cows and license plates from different states. They should wave at proud cities as they pass through in wonderment of what is new and excitingly unfamiliar. Instead they sit dumb in front of a tiny consolation prize with unnatural color and stereo sound. Will these kids ever be impressed by the dangerous grace and balance of a towering skyscraper? Will they feel humble in the vastness of an open yellow plain? Landscapes will not exist for them! All they will know is the falseness that is projected twelve inches in front of their vulnerable, ignorant faces.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Eschew! Bless You! (Allergic to Flowers)

Most girls are happy to get flowers from their boyfriends. In fact, from my observations over my years as a single woman, I've noticed that this is all that some ladies hope for from their significant others at any given time. I've actually heard things like this:

"He didn't have to take me out for our anniversary, but it would have been nice to get flowers."

"He didn't get me flowers for Valentine's Day. Isn't your boyfriend supposed to get you flowers on Valentine's Day?"

"I told him that flowers were a waste of money but that doesn't necessarily mean that I don't want them."

I'm usually of the mentality that flowers are nice every now and then but overall I think the idea of giving flowers is a fairly unoriginal cop-out. I've seen so many girls walking around with bouquets on their birthdays, on anniversaries, and on that most horrid of all the questionably fabricated holidays, Valentine's Day. And every time I see one of them, beaming ignorantly with that stupid glazed-over baby rabbit look on her pretty little face, I can't help feeling a little bit sorry.

These are girls whose boyfriends are doltish clones. Sure, they should get points for remembering, say, three semi-important (depending on your opinion) days of the year. But flowers? That's a little textbook for my taste. None of these guys would have the brains or the courage to get their girl something different.

I don't usually get flowers from my boyfriends. And the only boyfriend I had who ever got me flowers did so on creative days for interesting reasons. Example: once I was stage managing a play and he sent me a bouquet on opening night. Quite thoughtful. This is the same boyfriend I stayed with for an extra few weeks after he bought me a copy of "Synchronicity" on vinyl, because I thought a gift like that should definitely warrant a second chance.

Another fellow I dated bought me an original print of a poster for a movie about Santa Claus fighting the devil, made in the early '60s. It's incredibly rare (the film and the poster.) He still won't tell me where he got it. This was one of my birthday gifts from him. There's nothing floral about it. I love it.

I think the reason that my relationships have been flowerless is because of my bashing of the flower right from the start. When I'm being courted, I tend to verbalize my dislike for the flower for two basic reasons:

a) the guy will think I am low-maintenance, and thus, better girlfriend material.

b) the guy will think I am practical (flowers die!), and thus, better girlfriend material.

b) the guy will think I am unconventional and unique, and if he appreciates this, he is better boyfriend material.

Of course, after I finally snag the guy, I do go through times when I think, "Why would I do that? Flowers are nice. I wouldn't necessarily mind getting flowers from this fellow." And then there's the danger of ending up with a guy who is cheap and is merely dating me because he doesn't have to spend money on frivolous presents. Mostly though, I find that the man I'm with takes on the challenge of finding unusual presents for me with great fervor and tenacity.

This weekend my lover surprised me with what is probably the coolest present that he could have found for me. It's an Enid doll. One of my favorite books is the Daniel Clowes graphic novel, "Ghost World," and Enid is one of the two main characters in this novel. In 2003, Clowes designed an Enid doll and marketed it ironically as a "Hi-Fashion Glamour Doll." And now I have one. It's positively delightful.

Earlier in our courtship he thrilled me with two thrift-store records: Shaun Cassidy's Born Late, and Tom Jones's The Fever Zone. (Oddly enough, I already had the first of the two titles in my collection but we can't fault him for that--it's really absurd that I owned that record in the first place.)

This is the kind of stuff that I'm used to. That may make me sound like I'm hard to please, which is not the case at all. I really am low-maintenance. I don't like asking for anything. And usually it's because I don't want anything. I don't like to be spoiled at all and most of the time I'm perfectly happy with an extra phone call or e-mail or maybe a letter. I'm a better giver than a receiver. But I do immensely appreciate the extra effort that my fellow goes to in order to insure my happiness.

He doesn't need to wear himself out buying such weird gifts though. I kind of like lilies.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Playing the Odds

I think I'm going to try to write a song every night. That way, even if only one out of every five isn't a sappy love song, then I'll have one decent song every week. I can deal with that.

Last night I re-wrote "Enid," a song that I based on the character of the same name from Daniel Clowes' graphic novel, "Ghost World." I'm really happy with the product. It has a pretty strong melody and a decent-sounding chorus. I've known for a while that I needed to write a song about Enid but my original version was really wordy and didn't feel right. I didn't capture enough apathy in it and even the tune wasn't appropriate. Here is the new version. If I think of it later I'll post the old one--I don't have my other journal with me so I don't have the lyrics to copy.


My name is Enid.
How perfect is that?
I live in a town with some lawns
and some strip malls.

Biding my time
a bottle of hair dye
a record that spins me a lifetime
until fall.

Am I really moving?
I can't tell.
Put something soothing
on the record player.

It's hot outside,
we follow the weirdos.
We call them our people
but she doesn't seem to believe.

So maybe I'll leave
on a bus and I won't say goodbye.
I'll meet some new strangers.
Hey that's some kind of reprieve.

Am I really moving?
I can't tell.
Put something soothing
on the record player.

Is this really living?
It's just as well
with nothing to offer
but the shell
of some other ghost
inside of me.

There's a ghost inside of me
There's a ghost inside of me
There's a ghost inside of me
and her name is Enid.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Sassy Arse

Most of the time when I see this I take it as a warning.

The pants say, "This ass is juicy. You'd better stand back." I often follow young girls with printed posteriors the way a jainist maneuvers sidewalks and dirt roads with a broom to protect small organisms from harm. Carefully anticipating fallout, a few steps behind the behind, I shake my head in disbelief. Mostly I'm shaking my head at the nubile, soft-skinned, fleshy sexual being in front of me, her swaying arse printed with a promise. Maybe she's "FOXY" (FO on one cheek, XY on the other.) Maybe she's "SASSY" (SA on one cheek, SY on the other--the other "s" often gets lost somewhere in the middle.)

But sometimes when I'm shaking my head I'm disappointed in myself. For looking. And for wondering what my ass wants me to communicate to the world. What's my ass-essence? When I saunter down the street in the midday sun, earbuds in, closed off from the world, can my heiny do my talking for me? How transcendent is her message?

Here are some words that I think the back of my pants would like to communicate:

EXISTENTIAL--it was my choice to put on these pants this morning and the rear end of said pants say that much and more. When I walk in these pants, I'm looking for purpose. I'm in control. When I take them off, I seriously don't know what to do with myself. I freak out.

SARDONIC--maybe I don't take myself too seriously when I'm wearing my ass pants. Big deal. When I wear my sardonic ass pants, SARD on one cheek and ONIC on the other, people know that the real message is actually just tongue-in-cheek.

ESOTERIC--this will guarantee that I only get hit on in my ass pants by a particular kind of man or woman. Someone who gets it. Someone who's smarter and cooler than you.

SURREAL--my rear is dream-like, homie. Recognize.

FUTILE--sometimes this means that any attempts to attract attention to my bum by printing words on my pants are useless. Sometimes it means that your efforts to get into my pants are useless.

MANIFEST--my heiny is your destiny. There it is. Seriously, it's right there. Bam.

NARCISSIST--really, when you think about it, there isn't any other word that's better for this particular use.

POMO--maybe I'll pair my butt-talker sweatpants with a wool sport coat and a pair of thick-framed glasses. And saddle shoes. Maybe I'll be carrying old records under my arm. And maybe I'll eschew the grand narrative.

So there are my ideas for some truly original ass-pants. Look for me on the street--I'll be wearing them for sure. Just don't expect me to answer if you call out to me. I think my back end is bad by itself without my own thoughts and musings getting in the way.