Friday, September 29, 2017

oh I'm havin' a good one

Customer service.
Don't those words evoke some kind of feeling for you?
This week I spent a good length of time talking to my internet provider. My bill had gone up 25% and being that my rent just went up and my wages are staying essentially the same, I wasn't having it.
One live chat (28 minutes) and two phone calls (18 minutes) later, my rate was restored, including credit for the upcoming month.
"Do me a favor," the retention specialist (a guy) snapped in defeat, "and have a wonderful day."
Wellsir. I will. And thank yew.
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Today I rented a car. Renting a car always leaves me wanting a stiff drink and a shower. Where do they find these smarmy bro's? Last time I rented, the very condescending bro showed me how to use the windshield wipers and the lights. Today, as I waited to get my keys, broski demanded a second phone number, a friend or family member's, "just in case." When I enquired why I would wish to give him the phone number of someone who wasn't even coming with me on my road trip, he pressed. I said absolutely not. Eventually, he resignedly entered my e-mail address. The entire transaction felt like I was interacting with a robot. In the least possible exciting way.
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Then there are the actually pleasant interactions, the woman at Green Home who helped me find a few non-toxic items for upcoming projects. Cheerful and brisk and no kind of pressure. My bank also has some pretty friendly employees, at least when I go in person. What does it all mean? I have no idea. I worked customer service and there were good days, where I felt like I was truly helping people, and there were the not-so-good days, where every caller was either a perv or a shrieker, and I was only doing time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

crazytown

I attended a friend's first radio broadcast last Sunday and it was a bit of a shitshow.
Mainly because the friend had invited a bunch of friends (including me) to stop by, play some music, read a story, whatever, and let's just say it was a motley cast of characters.
A few musician types, with interesting noms de plume and beards and tattoos.
A twitchy ex-bouncer who dropped the f-bomb a couple of times on the air and rattled off a lengthy story about getting fired from a local club and restraining orders and people out to get him--all while livestreaming on Instagram.
Me, erstwhile writer, nervous about reading and feeling ever more claustrophobic in the warm, b.o.-smelling booth.
My friend, increasingly frantic from the sort-of inadvertent swears ($3K a pop per the FCC) and the need to keep sounds, any sounds, on the air.
I like the shitshow, though.
You don't know what will happen.
It's interesting.
It's real.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

music of the week

Goldfrapp was in town this week. I don't understand most (okay, any) of the lyrics but I love their pure electro-disco escapism and strange, naughty videos.


My city is heartlessly and yet somehow heartily demolishing its musical past, so I feel an urgency to see as many musical performances as I can while I can, especially in the venues that seem vulnerable--the Blue Moon and the Kraken and Re-Bar. And now I guess, the Highline.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

and more new construction


In other news, this charming structure is now under my care. I have a lot of waterproofing, insulating and installing to do yet, but the bones are there and I couldn't be more excited to get started.
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And, we have had rain the past few days. After a summer of prolonged heat and fires and smoke, it is most welcome. The air is fresh again. The trees breathe. And I relax into the gentle thrumming.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

new construction

I've been reading memoirs in preparation for--well, I don't like to say what for, so suffice to say I'm delving deep into the world of memoir. It's a genre I've mostly avoided, in part because the form reminds me of testimony time at church, back when I was a kid, and as a born-and-raised p.k. let me tell you, I've heard puh-lenty of maudlin tales. I'm also no fan of sappy endings, everything has a reason narratives, or true-love-conquers-all kind of quatsch.
Exceptions to my strict no-memoir rule have been: Katharine Hepburn's Me, and Agatha Christie's An Autobiography, both life stories related by iconoclastic females who succeeded by being themselves, ignoring or subverting the male gaze, and looking, as far as I can tell, to impress no one. So I'll definitely re-read those.
In service to research I've read, mainly courtesy of the SPL in the past couple of weeks:
The first three books had forewords, which I usually skip but in light of this being a research effort, I read. I still don't get the point. Why write a foreword to say: "I wrote this book." I mean, obvs! Let's get on with it! Skip.
I couldn't finish the Rick Bragg book. The dialect, or more precisely, the good-old-boy prose rhythms, really bothered me. His mom sounded courageous but a whole book? Not for me.
Boy I've read many times, and it's more a collection of anecdotes, than a proper memoir, but I enjoyed Dahl's easy prose and vivid scenes. For me it added up to a tale of a European childhood no longer possible, the genesis of so many classic and beloved books. And yet I remembered as I read that, per his daughter and ex-wife, Roald Dahl grew up to be a less than kind and generous human being.
Didion's book is a real gut punch, beautifully written of course and a perhaps unintended window into the Writerly Classes I've always feared and yet somehow envied their LA/Upper East Side/Hawaii circuit.
So, the reading continues.
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Also, keep an eye here for fiction news in a couple of weeks. A story I've loved and been shopping around has finally found a home.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

superfluous children

Hilary Mantel's piece in the Guardian on Princess Diana ruthlessly lays bare deep truths about the blushing blond princess. In doing so, Mantel also has a lot to say about the public's--our combined--ok my own!--projections and fantasies. Without quite knowing why, I examined every page, pored over every deliciously airbrushed photo in the 1997 Vanity Fair cover story, Diana Reborn. I wasn't a romantic, I didn't believe in fairtales or happyily-ever-afters. And yet, I was dazzled too. I too could not look away. "Was she complicit," Mantel writes, "or was she an innocent, garlanded for the slab and the knife?"
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As the third daughter, was she, a third girl child, a disappointment to her aristocratic parents, desperate for an heir? I hadn't known that Diana's older brother died as a child, or that her mother deserted the family. Quoting a Jungian: "Unwanted or superfluous children have difficulty in becoming embodied; they remain airy, available to fate, as if no one has signed them out of the soul store."
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And the real kicker:
When people described Diana as a “fairytale princess," were they thinking of the cleaned-up versions? Fairytales are not about gauzy frocks and ego gratification. They are about child murder, cannibalism, starvation, deformity, desperate human creatures cast into the form of beasts, or chained by spells, or immured alive in thorns. The caged child is milk-fed, finger felt for plumpness by the witch, and if there is a happy-ever-after, it is usually written on someone’s skin.
 Read the entire piece, if you dare.

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