Archive for January, 2010


i’m good enough, i’m smart enough, and darn it, people like me

January 27, 2010

at the end of the Fall 2005 quarter, as i sat at my kitchen table furiously grading student exams and wondering how i would get to san francisco in time for the ballet performance i had backstage access to (answer: i wouldn’t. yay school!) and generally cursing my entire blasted life, i had an epiphany: i did not need this shit. 

in fact, i took a little grading break and looked up some publishing jobs. hey, i thought, i could totally do these. i could leave school and get a job and the world would not end. so that’s what i did.

of course, things didn’t exactly go in that linear progression of leave school–>achieve publishing job–>happy and well paid. there was much gnashing of teeth, much agonizing, much working in shitty jobs. but through it all, even when it sucked, i realized i was happier than i would have been had i stayed in grad school. filing > teaching, it turns out, at least for me.

for the past month, i have been working on this copyright project, involving figuring out which books have and have not been registered for copyright in the past ten years (we’re supposed to register like 95% of our books). this project is a perfect clusterfuck of annoyance: it’s boring (relies heavily on data entry and data verification); it’s frustrating (apparently people just didn’t bother with things like answering mandatory deposit notices from the Library of Congress); and, worst of all, it will not fucking end. it has taken over my life. every day i discover something new and horrifying about the situation. 

so today, as i’m once again getting irate (because i have yet to force myself to just stop caring), i realized something. i had an epiphany, you could say, a come to jesus moment. i do not have to do this. i do not like this job any more. and, more than anything else, i am better than this job. no more feeling guilty for being a shitty employee: i’m done feeling bad because i dislike my crappy, boring job. i am better than this. and dammit, i deserve better than this. i am going to find something better to do with my life, something that makes me happy and doesn’t cut my pay every year. i am going to do this, even if it means moving to the goddamn east coast and learning to drive in snow. that’s how serious i am, people.


he’s always alone, even with someone he loves

January 24, 2010

So I was standing in my kitchen, making lunches for the week and listening to the newest Guy Clark album* and thinking about how much I love his voice. And then I started thinking about how I can’t really describe it, the mental pictures I get from his music. It’s sad and spare and sometimes kind of wistful. It makes me think of empty landscapes, of grey skies and open prairies and long drives when you’re all alone. It’s music for outlaws and loners and others on the edge of society.

And then I started thinking about our images of the West, about opportunity and disappointment, boom and bust, sunshine and darkness, glamour and grit. I thought about how for every story of striking it rich and reinventing yourself, there’s a story of the sad loner, of the doomed outlaw, the starlet who never made it.

And then I thought about the noir genre, so much of which is located in Southern California. I’m certainly not the first to point out that while noir was partly a response to post-war America, it was also a response to Hollywood. It rose just after the first true gilded age of the movie business, when Los Angeles became home to the modern Gold Rush. Noir is about darkness and grime; when set in L.A., it’s about the dirt underneath the glitter, about has-beens and failed starlets in a town that thrives on celebrity.

I don’t really have a point here. Mostly just thinking out loud to see what came of it.

* Which is excellent, by the way, and not just because he specifically mentions whiskey in three separate songs. Also not just because there’s a song called “Eamon” and I’m a known lover of Gaelic names. Sometimes I really do judge things on their merits, okay?


where i’m from

January 23, 2010

Guys, you should really be watching Friday Night Lights, which, as the saying goes, is not actually about football (although there is a lot of football in it). Rather, FNL is about family, community, and growing up. It’s all ridiculously well done and true to life, so much so that one can forgive the occasional misses (personally, I just pretend Season 2 didn’t happen). Because even when things go wonky on a large scale, the details are perfect.

I had this whole long post on the topic I was working on – seriously, like 3 pages single spaced – but it was all just kind of unfocused and pointless, so I scrapped it. What I really want to say about the show is how it treats its characters with respect and without condescension, and how in doing so it presents a world that people can identify with.* In fact, while the current season is full of tremendous moments, one of my favorites is actually quite small and occurs during Julie’s interview with an Ivy League college admissions counselor:

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cheesecake is the solution to all of life’s problems

January 21, 2010

so i saw this article today (via jezebel) and it reminded me of something i was thinking about in the shower this morning (if you can call my pre-caffeinated mental processes “thinking”). see, last night i was bound and determined to finish this scarf i was knitting, and i ended up staying up til 1 am. this of course led to me watching golden girls at midnight. 

in this particular episode, rose had started dating a man and was considering sleeping with him. this led to a frank discussion of sex (especially sex after a spouse has left or died) among the ladies. in fact, it was a bit like watching sex and the city, without all the things that made that show so annoying. i always had a love-hate relationship with SATC, because while certain aspects annoyed the living hell out of me (everything carrie wore, everything charlotte said) and i didn’t necessarily find myself reflected in the characters, there was something to the show’s portrayal of female relationships that i could identify with. 

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after all, archaeologists *love* trash pits

January 15, 2010

oh, pamie. girl, I feel you. do I ever:

This would be a good segue to explain why I cannot watch the show Hoarders, because while all of you sit back and judge and cluck and wretch, I am breathless with anxiety, clutching my throat, thinking, “How can they just throw out that entire box of old onesies without asking which five are the most important?! They don’t even know why she saved them! There’s a reason!”*

so have you heard of this show, Hoarders? it’s about people who hoard. I’ve seen some ads for it, and it looks horrifying. like, cat corpses under the piles of newspaper horrifying. it’s bad, people, is what I’m saying here, and I absolutely cannot bring myself to watch it, and not just because I don’t particularly enjoy watching people in crisis as entertainment. no, this show horrifies me because I’ve been on both sides of the hoarding argument: I’ve had to force people to throw useless junk away, and I’ve had to learn to let go myself.

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we on a mission

January 15, 2010

it’s friday, and avq&a has a good question this week: pop culture proselytizing projects.

i don’t even need to tell you my answer to that question, do i? do i?


black hole

January 6, 2010

things are afoot, people. wedding-type things. and since it’s my best friend who’s getting hitched, and we talk about it a lot, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage and commitment and the purpose of marriage (versus just saying “let’s stay together!”) and probing the gaping wounds in my soul and trying to figure out why, for real, I don’t really want to get married.

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