Monthly Archives: December 2011

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You may or may not know me from the JumboTron

Tonight my face was featured on the JumboTron. Why I was in the vicinity of a JumboTron is incidental; for the purposes of this story, just imagine that I have one in my bedroom.

Seeing my image up there was exhilarating in a way that terrifies me now. To my knowledge, my face has never before been 10 feet wide, but I think this is the scale I’ve been trying to effect on Facebook lately. As I’ve plundered the site this past month, looking for ways to appease my loneliness, I’ve slowly gathered that it’s not other people I’m so desperately seeking, but a proper presentation of myself. I’m longing for what? A self who makes sense in the context of all these other selves doing busywork outside my apartment. If I could only get it right here, in these well-trafficked places, then I could sit solidly in my chair and be someone calm and important. Tonight, as I primped in the bathroom mirror, I told my mom, “I finally figured out how to make my hair do. It didn’t do before, but now it does.” I feel that my internet persona strikes the same shallow register as my enhanced body of hair. At this point I’m just fluffing random parts and spraying product in all directions, hoping for some degree of positive attention.

Darren Hoyt recently wrote a blog post about anxiety and the internet, inspired by an N+1 piece published last November. As I grapple in Virginia with my book’s many empty pages, I think about bullshit websites and my presence on them. When you dance from place to place, you’re not forced to uncover meaning in your surroundings. When you tangle with identity only here and there, you can’t authentically untangle yourself (I know, First World Problems, fuck it). I realize that I’ll never write a good novel with one foot still in Facebook, but I rationalize that the constant distraction of web browsing is productive insofar as it makes me hate myself better, which I am told is good fodder for fiction. Ha ha, totally kidding.

I’m going to try to bring this all together now. Wine is not my friend this evening and Pandora has confused me with one of his other lovers, a pretentious electronica DJ.

Hours after my face darkened the JumboTron, I expected to be recognized by strangers in the street. “It’s really me! The one with the giant head!” But peoples’ reactions were surprisingly muted. Therefore I came home to Facebook, which I knew contained my biography in a comforting, manageable, place-holding format, where my life will stay put until I’m brave enough to venture off screens both small and jumbo, and put something right and real on paper.

Links: In sickness and in health

“Now That Books Mean Nothing”: 31-year-old author Nell Boeschenstein reflects on literature and her double mastectomy

NPR interview with Louis C.K.: “You find yourself in front of a room of wounded veterans, and they just want to have fun. They want to see you go crazy. So every time I did these shows, I would start polite, and then I would maybe test the waters with one something dirty, and they would go crazy. And I’m looking at a bunch of guys who want relief, who want to laugh.”

Cannibalistic polar bear

Paris Review interview with Gary Lutz

Lizard playing video games

“How I Became a Best-Selling Author”

Christopher Hitchens on suffering: “So far, I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline. I repeat, this is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slower motion. It is our common fate.”

Hey birds, come feast on this block of food

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So far the birds in the backyard have not started flocking to the block of food I provided for them. I don’t know what their problem is. I happen to love blocks of food, especially in wintertime. This bird meal cost me $7, and it’s basically a family-style lasagna. If any birds are reading my blog, I urge them to give this food a chance.

Babysitting rider

Because I will never be a rock star, I am developing a rider for babysitting gigs.

(1) gallon red Gatorade
(1) reduced fat string cheese
(1) bottle red wine, uncorked and three quarters full, so no one will notice a glass missing
(8) Hello Kitty Band-Aids
(1) bottle hand sanitizer. In lieu of hand sanitizer, will accept rubber gloves or body armor.
(3) juicy magazines. Interpret juicy as you wish. I am not a dictator. Some catalogs acceptable.
(1+) safety helmet
(1+) life jacket
(1) leftover stash of Halloween candy
(5) novel/short story ideas that I can steal from the children, ideally something related to elves and/or fairies
(1) container bath salts, in the event of a late night
(1+) children. It’s weird when I’m just hanging out at your house. Oh, wait. This is an adult dinner party. Can I still sing Raffi songs? Do I still get paid?

Loving “The Logo”

You all know me here as a basketball legend. I’m rarely caught expressing myself outside of a game of hoops. Like Jerry West before me, I am both a depressive and a fierce competitor. I compete with other people who are depressed. Come to think of it, I don’t typically play basketball so much as cry in front of extinguished TV sets on which watching basketball is an option. I am winning at that. But I have great respect for athletes. My family members like to run around and throw things. My siblings routinely crush me in paddle ball matches on the beach, when I am handicapped by my grip on Pinot Grigio bottles. My dad was an athlete, or at least he liked to take his shirt off in the driveway when he sensed something physical happening in the vicinity. My mother, on the other hand, is sports challenged. Throw a ball at her when she is not looking and it will likely hit her.

But Jerry West knows how to play basketball. His last-minute heroics on the Lakers team earned him the nickname “Mr. Clutch” (which sounds a lot like Wistar Clutch, for those of you still shopping for a term of endearment). And West recently collaborated on a memoir with author Jonathan Coleman, a book that features me in the acknowledgements because I had the honor of transcribing audio interviews with Jerry West and his long-limbed cohorts, an honor that true basketball fans will forever resent me for because I had to look up the spelling of venerable names such as “Elgin Baylor” and “the Lakers.” And because I feel so privileged to have gotten to know Jerry West in this raw form before the book was published, through his interviews and once or twice on the phone, I was outraged to read Dwight Garner’s mean-spirited review of West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life, in the New York Times last month.

I’ve met Jerry West in person since the book came out, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience. The man has beans. He’s forever curious about other people. He’s weird and kind and conflicted and wonderful. If he hadn’t been so tall, I would’ve determined that he played a different sport, perhaps something having to do with chess. Garner’s description of Jerry as “a boor and, worse, a bore” is so outlandish as to belong in the Outlandish Descriptions Hall of Fame, which I have often visited because I keep my medals there.

I treasure my experience with Jerry West. His complexity and thoughtfulness far exceed his on-court exploits, which is saying a lot because I hear the man has done some things. As a girl I never had a sports hero, and I didn’t expect to acquire one as a struggling, slouchy writer of 31, but now the Jerry West posters have joined the Nabokov posters on my wall, and the Jerry West trading cards have replaced the Sartre trading cards in my lockbox–and keep in mind that I’m just being writerly and I actually own none of these things–and even though I’ve still only watched a handful of basketball games in my life, I now rank myself up there with Jerry’s many other number one fans.