Posts tagged ‘writing’
like many of us, when i was in high school and college, i wrote wretchedly bad poetry. my freshman year of college, i tried to get into a much-coveted poetry class with a poem about the chipped silver nailpolish of the girl i had a crush on and a statement of purpose about how i never edited anything. i didn’t get in. friend forty, funnily enough, was the person who had to tell me the news. before that, i think our friendship potential had been quite high, but after that, even though it hadn’t been her decision, i think i got a little distant. which is sad, because this smart girl with a sweet demeanor and smile and actual poetry talent would probably have been a lot of fun to hang out with.
perhaps i have the chance again. we recently ran into each other (she was with friend twenty-nine) at the sfmoma cafe, and made all of those “let’s be facebook friends and really hang out” hopes and promises. i hope it can work out.
friend thirty-two, who i will refer to here as “amelia bird,” was part of what may have been the most perfect moment in my life. and fortunately for me, it was captured on videotape, and whenever i watch it, i still get misty-eyed.
at new college, there is this wonderful thing called “dance tutorial.” students choreograph dances, find other students willing to perform them, and at the end of every semester, there is an epic outpouring of love and support for these performances, which vary in range from amazingly talented to endearingly earnest to intentionally hilarious. one performance forever stands out for me. in it, three fabulous ladies danced to toto’s “africa” in a way that was definitely on the “intentionally hilarious” side of things, but there was something about it that was even more than that. i’m not sure what was so perfect about it, but to give you an idea, i will tell you that friend thirty-two wore ’80’s workout gear and a fannypack from which she later pulled out feathers, another of the performers rolled a tire across the stage, and eventually they all got the audience to sing along. when i showed the video to my girlfriend, worried she wouldn’t understand, she totally got it– it is perfect. “it’s everything that’s good about being in college.” it’s like an interpretive dance of the freedom, joy, acceptance and goofiness of that time in life. so good.
another thing about friend thirty-two is that she’s stunningly beautiful. in a lot of the traditional ways that beauty is defined in this society, but with this extra added boldness, sweetness, and intelligence that makes it more than the world expects. i’ve sat around naked with her and discussed a whole lot of things. i’ve fed her with my hands and she’s fed me with her hands at college parties. she gives fantastic hugs and is wonderful to talk to about the broad issues of the world or the things one’s heart is wrestling with.
i was about to say i saw her recently, and then realized that by that i mean 2 or 3 years ago. she was finishing up a revered writing mfa program in the midwest and was visiting one of the friends who was in that dance performance (and come to think of it, the third lady was there as well), and i got to hang out with them and help her make us all a giant amazing pot of tom kha soup. another great moment in my life. nothing will top that dance, but sharing amazing food comes pretty close.
there’s also the way that social networking websites can be pretty crazy-making. for example, a few years ago, i found myself trying to contact my best friend from grades 2-4. i wanted to reach out to her but was terrified about all of the changes that had occurred for me, so found myself sending her a message on myspace with something cryptic like, “how would you feel if you found out your childhood best friend was now a boy?” sometimes i am unintentionally creepy. anyway, i didn’t hear anything back from her and decided our friendship was officially shot and she was officially skeeved out, etc., etc. i don’t know why i think it’s a good idea to send messages to long lost friends at two in the morning or why i think that my worked-up insecurities about those messages are based anywhere in reality.
finally, recently, i decided to brave it again. i was clearer this time, although the insecurity bred from the last lack of reciprocation was definitely clear in the message. i really really wanted to renew the friendship, but i knew that there were any number of reasons that that might not be possible or desirable for my childhood best friend, friend thirty-four, “amy b.”
but fortunately she responded, excitedly, agreeing that these reconnections are the whole purpose of facebook. currently we are politically very similar, we are both engaged, and we are both trying to focus on writing, so those are nice commonalities to have. and then there are the many many memories of the time in our life when the world was much more touched with magic than it is now. this is the girl i spent hours digging on the playground to try to unearth what we thought was a triceratops bone but what was really the cement that anchored part of the play structure. this is the girl who i cried over songs like “somewhere out there” and “the greatest love of all” with. this is the girl who told me all about the land of mordor while i told her about a red-haired orphan and we plotted running away and starting a bakery. this is the girl who convinced me there was an alien in my shower and who listened to me describe my theory that i was actually an alien dropped from my cradle at the same time an earth baby was dropped from its cradle. this is the girl who was convinced with me, that our substitute teacher who was reading us the witches by roald dahl was in fact a witch (but a good one), herself (to this day, i swear she must have at least put some sort of black substance in her mouth to help lead us to that conclusion). this is the girl who vied with me to get the new german student to kiss one of us under the play structure. this is the girl who sang with me on the swings. this is the girl that the yard attendant had to mediate many of my arguments with, due to our cockamamy theories, her creative tendencies, and my taurean stubbornness. she was the cece bloom to my hilary whitney.
in 5th grade, i moved away and she started going to the school for the gifted. when i came back, i wanted to apply to that school but it wasn’t in the cards. we had a few hangout sessions but adolescent awkwardness had set in, and her world was so much different from mine and i was a little intimidated. so after i stopped going to practices for the local youth choir, we lost touch. at some point in high school, i almost wrote a letter to the address that was still engrained in my memory. when i went to college, i met friend eighteen who had also gone to the school for the gifted, and i picked her brain about friend thirty-four. and after a few google searches, i finally braved contact the aforementioned awkward time. and then, finally, i did it in a slightly more socially competent and confident way, and now we are back in touch. hurray!
friend twenty-nine, who i will refer to here as “amber dipietra“, and i went to college together but didn’t really know each other well. she was in the group of people who in my head were the “older, cooler, poetry people.” one of the themes of this whole project is how misplaced intimidation has gotten in my way, and this is one of those cases.
recently, i was at the sfmoma and i ran into two new college students, friend twenty-nine being one of them. we became facebook friends, and from that i’ve learned that her poetry has really taken off and she’s doing some really awesome things with it. now that we’re relative neighbors, as far as the new college diaspora goes, maybe we’ll see more of each other and have actual conversations.
“why don’t you sell white sage?” a customer at the independent used bookstore in the mission that i used to work at asked.
“um… well, i’m not sure,” i stumbled.
after they left, i realized the real answer to that question is friend twenty-three, “alvin orloff.” friend twenty-three, alvin, is the manager of that shop, and one of the prime reasons for why that store will never sell white sage. a low tolerance for all things woowoo matched with a deep love of all things literary and intellectual makes the idea of friend twenty-three integrating white sage into the shop’s inventory ludicrous.
one of my flaws as an employee is my tendency to chatter. this can be compounded by the way that friend twenty-three’s sassy & kitschy aesthetic represents something i’d like to achieve some day, and i had a mix between a desire to impress and a fear of appearing too “all about eve.” i was always doing ridiculous things to try to seem supersmart, hip, and fun, like writing messages in the staff book in code. and he tended to be pretty tolerant of it all.
his deep place within the sf literary scene is not something i’ve exactly coveted, but it’s definitely impressive. & one of the things that was great about working for him at the bookstore was how he makes people who work at the bookstore feel like part of the intelligentsia of san francisco. that was a really fun part of that job and i miss it. that, and talking with friend twenty-three about kitten wigs, herb alpert, and countercultural critiques.
it is a cold, drizzly seattle night. we are standing outside of a pub that reminds me of chaucer, where i’ve just had the first beer i’ve ever enjoyed, and we are discussing the differences between seattle, portland, and olympia, in preparation for friend twenty-one’s impending move. i am in love with seattle, not wanting to be anywhere smaller, but friend twenty-one, who i will refer to here as “alissa nielsen,” is talking about how portland is a great blend between seattle and olympia, in her opinion, just the right size. i am skeptical.
the reason we’ve been getting together is to be part of a small writing group of people who are part of the building where the zine library is located. we’ve jokingly all decided we will be the next bloomsbury group, except, sadly, the group will disband after only a few meetings. friend twenty-one will move to portland, and the next (and last, so far) i will see her is at a poetry reading at evergreen, where she gets to read from her very own chapbook. i am oddly quite proud, beaming at her as, with her poetry, she tells us tales of her life, including the one about how it’s hard to follow jack kerouac’s example when you are a young woman, how different it is, and how much more it can suck.
friend twenty-one has kind, bright eyes with distractingly pretty eyelashes that make her open smile seem extra genuine somehow. she is thoughtful and real, and one of the smartest people and best writers i know. she’s definitely in that category of facebook friends that i wish i was still near in real life so that we could be closer friends. at the same time, while i don’t think “intimidating” is the right word for her, my admiration for her writing talent has made me shyer than i’d like to be.
the importance? pretty important.
but part of this project, part of my experiment in online existence at all, is to figure out what is guarded and why, and the differences people have for their guarding. i tend to be an open book because there’s less to ferret out that way. and in general, i’ve found that people who have honest public presences can help others who are afraid of bits of themselves. but i guess for me, part of me holds a little bit of a grudge against “keeping personal things private.” we tend to hide so much from each other each day, and so taboo subjects stay taboo. of course, there are professional reasons to keep things quiet, though, and that makes sense. i googled myself today and think things are looking pretty okay– mostly my names come up with regional weather or sports topics.
i’ve discovered that many people find writing much more difficult than talking. this has lead to a tiny bit of soul searching as i discover that i actually think of writing as basically “talking, permanently, with my hands.” i talk like i write and was accused of being a walking dictionary in high school, and i write like i talk which means it’s pretty casual, unedited, and honest. actually, there’s a slight difference in the writing, because it takes just a little bit longer so i can be artfully cutesy and clever.
this project has a lot of intentions, some i’ve figured out and some i haven’t. one is one that i’ve talked about a few times here– exploring online existence and how others do it. and then there’s the aspect of celebrating my friends. in that, there’s a little bit of a “i want to look like the most popular boy in the school” and that’s something i need to keep a handle on, but mostly it’s just me gleefully getting to tell all y’all about how lucky i feel and how wonderful all these people are.
but there’s this whole other thing that’s been coming up. based on people’s suggestions, i’m going to people first to ask their permission to post about them. there’s a standardish message i send out, explaining how i know this whole thing is odd, but i wrote about them, and would they give me permission and should i use a name and/or picture or not. some people respond right away, some people haven’t responded after multiple weeks, one person wants to meet up with me in person. but my plan with the project is to give a me-filtered snapshot of each friend. and that means that maybe for the first time, some things are being said. i am honest and positive, but sometimes a little confessional. past crushes and awkwardnesses are coming out. every profile is first a private moment and then a public one, basically winding up with me posting naked pictures of my friends on the internet– except i’m the naked one, not them.
one more thing– i’ve had people ask about doing something like this, and i had a mini possessive freak-out. but really, if you want to do this project, you should. but i will warn you, it has the potential for some exceptionally awkward moments in your life. be warned.