Wednesday, May 28, 2003

the nice folks at the people's poet have accepted two of my poems for publication: "our visit" will appear in the autumn journal, and "runway model" in another journal whose name escapes me. both in the UK. no payment for either except for a copy of the publication, but that makes for 3 acceptances recently. encouraging.

my brother and i finally made it home yesterday. that meant i could go to lunch today with the curlygirls (at the sandwich counter, the man nodded to nomi behind me and said, "does your twin sister want something?") we ended up in bethesda afterwards and i picked up a george sand novel at 2nd story. in translation, of course. i'm excited to make her mine. as i found delillo's white noise disappointing, i'm turning squarely to 19th century women for solace. a copy of sense and sensibility i found in the bed n breakfast made me supremely happy.

so much for smug white misogynist males, 1950 - 1990. give me a proto-feminist any day.

Monday, May 26, 2003

around me, my brother and his roommate are dismantling their apartment. the walls look like once someone covered them with glue, took them to a heap of trash and rolled them through until every inch was covered. it's impressive. up closer some of the random pieces of paper, ticket stubs, pictures, postcards, doodles, bibs and parking tickets are funny. my decorative impulses and my brother's are similar, both inspired by packrat nostalgia and easy access to scotch tape.

the rest of my family has caravanned on. logically i know that different units have moved in different directions, but it seems to me, after watching everyone move in a body of 16 for 4 days, that the body will just continue on as one to the next celebration. two exist on the horizon, a cousin's barmitzvah in new jersey and soon after that my little brother's graduation from high skool. i'm going to the second, tho not before i stop over at swat for that graduation. considering how many times eager tears sprung to my eyes on sunday, just from watching the processional of cornell's 15000 in black gowns enter the stadium and receive the benediction of the college prez, i'm a little nervous about this next.

a cousin required my space in the family car so i'm staying with adam for another day, going home with him and all his crap tomorrow. that means another night on the couch. it's okay, it's a comfy couch. before i took up residence there, i stayed with the adults in a bed'n'breakfast 40 minutes away. lil bro judah stayed at adam's apartment with us last nite too, which meant we did everything from beer pong to, uh, beer pong, as a sibling unit. everyone now, come on: "awwwwwwwwwww."

the annoying part of the weekend was everyone turning to me and saying, "you next!" people! a year is a helluva long time. i refuse to look that far ahead and everyone else should follow my good example.
the best part of the weekend was the excesses of free food. since i'm immorally and inconsistently eating fish again, i could partake of glorious, glorious sushi. free range fun loving alaska salmon and otherwise.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

the recent spate of graduations is making me grimly certain of the fact that i have no interest in graduating myself, and still less in actually being an adult. i'm not sure what to do with this self-awareness except duck into grad skool and hide. assuming one takes me. the closer i get to actually scared, the lower my standards for the grad skool mfa program itself will drop.

i'm not graduating myself this year. but (penn-alum)becca just did. my older brother will this weekend. ben will next weekend. my little brother will the weekend after that. like lemmings, except, contrary to the education i received from duck tales, apparently lemmings don't actually rush en masse over cliffs. no matter; it makes for good metaphor.

me: ... so what am i going to do with the rest of my life?
him: work at hooters?

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

another ghost rises out of the internet, having gotten connected to this "perversely detailed" account of my life. my mother lets me know that my father glanced this way and was once again shocked at how candid i am. i thought the first shock would have been sufficient. that would explain, tho, when i told him my bartending story from last month he said he already knew.

i guess i get carried away sometimes. i lose sight of what should be censored. can someone wave their hands over their heads, make some universal gesture for TMI, when i go overboard, please? it's almost been 2 years already; i wish i knew.
so many movies. it's like an addiction. ones of note:
purple rose of cairo: i forget how much i love this until i run into again. stars mia farrow as a housewife during the depression who escapes drudgery, monotony and her boorish unappreciative husband in the movie theater, and jeff daniels (where has he gone? what is he doing? the man can act) as tom, the star of a typical hollywood flick who steps off the screen because he's so captivated by the sweet, sad woman who he has seen sitting through four shows.
tom has no idea how to handle real life; the characters in the film he walked out of don't know how to handle his absence or a life without a script; farrow's character doesn't know how to handle being admired and adored for the first time. jeff daniels in another role, the actor who created tom and who is held responsible for his character's defection, tries to talk sense into his creation and ostensibly falls in love with farrow as well.
it's a woody allen movie sans woody allen -- the best kind. also tongue in cheek, smart, and meta. ranks among my favorite Movies About Movies with adaptation and barton fink.

spiderman: finally caught this on hbo. my little brother wailed and whined, pointing out deviations from the comic, until i bound and gagged him and was free to enjoy the thing on its own terms. perhaps because of its base in the comic, the movie felt wedged squarely between the years 1958 and 1959. just like my big fat greek whatever. it irks me to have to accept movies of archiac sensibilities as taking place in the present day. at least the special effects are up to date. willem defoe seems to be having the time of his life, as do kirsten dunst's breasts. sometimes wet, sometimes clung to, always perky. you know it's a warning sign when an actress is upstaged by her own body parts (and she was so good in interview with the vampire ...).
little tobey escapes that particular problem, though his body is so drastically different as to be distracting. but he's good. he's really carving out a niche for himself as the adorable outsider, a little like ed norton. just so long as he goes the ed norton good movie route and doesn't get caught up in reese witherspoon vortex that begins with fame and ends with mindless blockbusters, crowd-pleasers, and a celebrity marriage.
still, spiderman celebrity status as the #1 earner seems a mystery. i'm not sure what makes it quite so special.

matrix: reloaded: my theory is that the architect talks so fast so that the average movie-goer will not be able to understand what he's saying and so will not be able to detect that beneath that thickly worded veneer, he really isn't making any sense. to a degree the whole film conforms to that idea: the plot is convoluted and contradictory with several frustrating guns-on-the-wall. i suppose some of those could be dealt with in the next installment; then again, they might not be. it doesn't matter. five minutes in, i was grinning. my jaw dropped during the fight scenes, although each one goes on for longer than it needs to and i got tired of seeing every car flip over in slow motion. two hours in, i was still eager to see what would happen next.
that's the point, isn't it? it's entertaining. everyone looks good. long-winded expository speeches aside, it moves at a pretty good clip and it's exciting. the people who are disappointed with it most have gone in expecting more but it was all i needed it to be.
it does seem like the star wars of our generation. that's all right by me. they feel roughly comparable, quality-wise and in terms of representing an era.

Monday, May 19, 2003

walking down the sunlit bethesda street this afternoon with my dearfriend jamie back from spain, a woman's voice lassoes me: "do you download music from the internet?" jamie and i turn around. the woman's name is also jamila. don't look at the camera, she tells us, and then she invites us to opine on the subject of post-Napster and AudioGalaxy piracy. no one has ever found a bloom at a loss for words, even on a subject s/he hasn't given excessive thought to. i voice support for downloading as a great way to gain exposure to various artists. i bought a lot more cds after i realized through downloading that i liked someone.
i don't manage to be funny, but i don't say "like" either.
great, thanks, says jamila. you guys can watch yourselves on fox news at 10 on wednesday.

and so can you. watch us, i mean. i just wish we'd gotten paid. i spent a decent chunk of money today, only at the last minute forgoing adding a movie ticket to the receipts from shopping and lunch. i may need better self-control; at least i no longer need killer sunglasses.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

ahh, home. so vastly different from college.

FOOD. my little brother, who's been holding down the fort for a week and a half by himself while my parents treated themselves to a vacation in central america, lives entirely off of meat and coke. the fridge is full of plastic containers: half hold one rancid piece of lamb each, the other half are empty and smell. last night, lacking the energy to go shopping, i make do with popcorn, carrots, and leftover tam tams from the family visit to australia last summer.

COMPUTER. in order to make this computer open up internet explorer, i had to close kazaa. What!, exclaims my little brother who wanders in to check his downloads. Kazaa was only using 95% of the memory! he bends over the glass table, resting his head on his fists and sighing.

TELEVISION. it exists! i arrive yesterday after two hours wedged between my bean bag chair and the backseat window, move immediately to the couch and scroll channels until midnight. i pause only to scrounge dinner (see FOOD).

FRIENDS. far away. we talk over the phone, each trying to convince the other to make the 20-minute trek.

BED. huge, comfortable, and empty. the walls around me a photo-collage i made of freshman year. it's eerie to look at everyone -- people i don't talk to, people i wish i talked to more, people who i'm still friends with but who look so much older now -- looking at me. in the same way, am i what they expected?

WEATHER. mediocre. what the hell is up with all this rain? did god not get the memo that it's may?

Thursday, May 15, 2003

the honors exam actually went as straightforwardly as i could imagine. i wouldn't go so far as to call it easy. it certainly, at least, was the test i studied for. there's something heartening in that. and now it's over.

i leave saturday. all around me people are leaving already. why? love, amusement, free food, green trees: man, we've got it made.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

so. intensely. tired. i didn't sleep last night. not Only a little, or Yeah i had to wake up early, or even I was up late studying (i was, but not that late). it was What's the object of all this darkness around me? they haven't gone and buried me alive ...

i had two thoughts as i lay there for hours, not moving for fear that if i remained for a moment longer in the same position my body would finally drift off: 1) why did i do all that research about mfa grad skool programs as a break from studying for my honors exam? and 2) why did i eat all that sugar?

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

i'd been waiting for a while to hear from the english department about whether or not they were going to give me (or stef, who also applied) $2500 to write poetry this summer. alas, they did not elect to give me (or stef) $2500 to write poetry this summer. i suppose i should have known: english departments have never liked me that much. individual teachers, sure. english majors, absolutely. but departments give me the cold shoulder.

to cushion the expected blow, before i heard i sent poetry off to six different places. fly, little poems! fly! i average about .3 submissions to out-of-college publications a year and that's sorely below the necessary number. at .3 a year, it would take me forever to accumulate the 42 requisite rejections that liz says precede that long awaited moment of wonder.
i did, however, only a matter of hours after sending the email, hear from the first place i sent stuff to. fixion magazine accepted "our visit," the t.s. eliot poem. well! that'll be the first time i've had something in print in an out-of-college medium since merlyn's pen took "i used to be a gymnast." hopefully this bodes well for my future of not being a pathetic failure.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

instead of taking internet quizzes, for a change, i went out today. to the fair and glorious city where i met fair and glorious becca, and we brunched in honor of thank-god-we're-not-mothers day. i carried an umbrella around as a charm against rain and sure enough the sun stayed out.

good art today too, for a change: i finished the delightful pride and prejudice and fran lebowitz's social studies, one of the most highly readable books i've come across in a while. speaking of which, becca and i wandered through a pretentious bookstore, the kind that sells used volumes at usual prices.
what's this, said becca, picking up a sliver of a book, more of a pamphlet really, called something like "the guide to kissing," published 1938 and targeted to men (or at least those who kiss girls). we giggled over its advice for a bit then looked for a price. the chubby man behind the counter volunteered his opinion on the subject: "for you, $3.75." when i didn't seem to find this a bargain, he seemed crushed.
instead i lingered over a far more useful document, the diaries of anais nin; but i was put off, on that score as well, by price. if anyone is thinking of a present for me, think in that direction.

but to pick up on the good art thread, becca and i then treated ourselves to the good thief, a sultry, well-made, heavily-accented, yet-another-heist movie. but throughout i kept admiring it for its skillful use of cinematic elements: car chases, witty dialogue, expensive clothes, the french riveria, explosions; a clever cop, a smarter, sympathetic criminal (who has hit rock bottom), and a very thin barely-legal girl; sex, drugs, and rock and roll. altogether enjoyable.

Saturday, May 10, 2003


You are adorable Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Trust me,
it was either this or Benigni, and you lucked out.

i only got here after redirecting my steps 4 times. first i made it as a corpse on six feet under, flipped burgers in a studio kitchen, directed porn, and was one of those pretentious assholes who just sneer at modern cinema fare. it's hard getting to the top. take it yourself.
i have [in]formally received the go-ahead from every member of senior company to turn their process into a movie. senior company consists of 6 honors theater majors, 2 directors, 4 actors, who, among themselves, have to pick a play, cast it, and then put on a production by the end of the semester. one of the directors i know relatively little of; one of the actors i have lived with. everyone else falls somewhere along that spectrum of familiarity.

and structure! pre-made structure: the best kind. i'll sit and take notes at rehearsals, occasionally interviewing the individuals involved. if no story develops, i'll abandon the idea. if one does -- or hopefully several do -- i'll have it all captured and ready to turn into my next project.
for my own amusement, i've been trying to cast Senior Co.: The Movie in my head. good, 20-something actors are eerily hard to come by.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

one of the more inventive quizzes i've seen lately: The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Moderate
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Low
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

limbo, btw, is described thus: "charon ushers you across the river Acheron, and you find yourself upon the brink of grief's abysmal valley. You are in Limbo, a place of sorrow without torment. You encounter a seven-walled castle, and within those walls you find rolling fresh meadows illuminated by the light of reason, whereabout many shades dwell. These are the virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptised children, and others unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven. You share company with Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad."

i mean, that seems all right. as a jewess i could hardly hope for better. but who does enter the kingdom of heaven, out of curiousity?

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

my poetry thing went rather smashingly, if i do say so myself. i got lots of laughs. that goes along with my poetry reading philosophy, which is, if your poem isn't funny, it better be pretty damn good. otherwise (i've noticed) people lose interest fast.

i racked up several wonderful compliments from several wonderful folks, including one cute freshman i don't know. "i liked you the best," she said, "not that you probably care." i was like, "are you kidding?" who doesn't live for the praise of strangers?

small craft warnings, the official lit mag, emerged today in hot pink. i tried my best to match it. people treat you differently when you wear pink. i can only wonder how my life would be if i dyed my hair blonde.

now there's nothing to do but buckle down and start reading for my history final on the 14th. in honor of my semester of poetry, here's a link to an ultra-cheerful newsweek article. my consolations are that clearly he didn't like poetry that much to begin with, and i'd never want to be friends with him.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

having little to do is a serious predicament, particularly right now. even when amusements present themselves, a good time isn't guaranteed. for instance, last night i went to to the a capella jamboree, a swarthmore tradition in which twelve-too-many a capella groups sing sets that are five minutes too long. that's not the point though. the event can still be enjoyable and occasionally it was.
in the last set, the sight of one individual forced a realization down like a piano on my head: the seniors are leaving. the seniors are leaving. that individual, and another that he reminded me of, a girl i'd always wanted to be friends with, would be leaving; i'd never see either again.

i managed to regain my composure when the group did something funny. but that backfired: i congratulated one of the members of that group in a way that my companions alerted me was stupid. i hate knowing i've said something stupid. if i could have, i would have chased that guy down, tackled him and forced him to give me it back. sadly i couldn't and now i'll know that he gets to carry my stupid remark around with him forever.
this wouldn't have mattered so much if i hadn't been sad. o was i sad. as soon as i escaped my companions i started bawling. i mean on the stairwell. in a way there's no better place -- stairways have cathedral quality acoustics. at least no one happened upon me and my resounding misery in the stairwell.

better today. still aimless. i finished postcards from the edge whose happy ending -- and plot, and structure, and focus -- differs entirely from the film version. i love carrie fisher's voice. it reminds me of dorothy parker, jean rhys, and rebecca eisenberg, of everyone in fact who writes well about neurotic witty upper-class women. i think i used to read so much about neurotic witty upper-class women that i wanted to be one. now i've read so much of the same that i decidedly do not. that's growth.

Monday, May 05, 2003

several exciting things befell this weekend, including, most notably, a visit from dearfriend ilana. she trekked down from harvard and thus was subjected to innumberable questions of "do you know ________ ?" she seemed to enjoy herself, maybe a little wistfully at times, and of course i loved having her here. like bingley in pride & prejudice -- which production i just watched again from start to finish -- she was eager to approve of everyone and everything she saw. sarah kelly in particular.

worthstock, the music festival that's come to be known as ben's baby, went off smashingly. a good crowd lingered all day and by golly it didn't rain a drop.

the next day co|motion met with our girls for the last time before the summer camp in june. they scavenger hunted (assignments included, "sing to two students and get their signatures" "what is the barn?" and "bring back a W"), then we all played elbow tag. just 15 minutes of the latter left me out of breath. if only i cared about being in shape.

my vcr has turned tempermental at the very moment that i have much free time and little to do with it. at least there's something going on every evening: ross's funny dance-thing this evening (king lear via liza clark, ballet style); tomorrow evening the collective creation pieces; wednesday MY POETRY CLASS READING at 4:00 PM IN THE SCHEUER ROOM and the small craft warnings / scarlet letters distro party at 7.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

i did not realize, let alone celebrate, it, but yesterday was my last day of classes this semester. i loved this semester. being me, of course, i was very apprehensive at the end of last semester. being me, of course, i'm now very apprehensive about the fall.

people shrug me off when i voice these apprehensions. half of the semester will be swollen with screenplay writing. i've only written one and the general consensus (i'd link to the triggerstreet reviews but that would be ghastly and depressing) was that it was sub-par. true, it was a first effort. but who's to say that this attempt will go better?
people say pshaw and i'm offended, the way a 6 year old is offended when not taken seriously. no, really, people, i'm scared to death. the least you can do is squeeze my hand.

i wrote a lot when i was 6. i had a ramona quimby diary and when i confided something too personal, i'd tear out the page, scribble over the words, shred it and bury it in the trash can in my brothers' bathroom. i wrote stories about life being cruel and unfair, which for me it was not. i wrote about girls named kate and mary and personally knew none. influenced and transfixed by the roald dahl books, in particular boy, my stories nearly always involved violent punishment of children. no one ever hit me, except the time my older brother knocked into my mouth and a baby tooth fell out, as though he'd put a quarter into a vending machine. in reaction he said he deserved half the tooth-fairy money.

when i was 10, the parabola of a tennis ball inspired me to rush home and write my first poem. it begins, "i had a dream the other night/ i flew with silver wings/ surprisingly i wasn't scared/ to leave all normal things" and ends, "it was a time to start another day/ but when this one will end:/ maybe i'll fly again tonight/ and this time, with a friend." actually i'd never dreamt about flying. i still never have.

the flying poem was anthologized by the bastards at the national library of poetry. those vultures feed on the vanity of people like me, pretending to sponsor a contest, updating you every few weeks, "CONGRATULATIONS!! you're in the TOP 2%!! send us more cash." eventually they declare you a winner and sell you, for $50, a hardback book with your poem on page 424 after as many horrifically bad poems called "rain" "the day my cat died" and "when you left." the first in the book -- it's burned into my memory -- begins, "salty tears run down my cheek/ as if my eyes had sprung a leak."

i know we all have to learn lessons in life, but really though that one was way harsh. the funniest part about it, which after about a week i could appreciate, was that they also sold you a tape with your poem read aloud by a sonorously-voiced man. this guy, who probably had an mfa from princeton, had, with utmost solemnity, to recite my 10-year-old stab at lyricism: "... as i flew higher and higher, i/ could see the land no more/ so i spread my wings to try to glide/ what a thrill it was to soar! ..."

the moral of this story is, i'm not ready for this semester to end yet. i have 14 fears about next semester (11 logical, 3 il- ), none of which can be scoffed away. please, just squeeze my hand.