Thursday, July 29, 2010

I sure like this girl

Meredith: You are so funny (love your book!)– and your writing is edgy. But being human, what’s the biggest, not-good-for-you lie you tell yourself about your skill, craft and talent? How do you set yourself straight, un-believe the lie?
RACHEL: Well first of all, thank you!  This is a hard question to answer.  I’m not sure.  I don’t know if this is a lie, per se, but one thing I do that really isn’t good for me is obsess way too much about my career and where I am in the relative spectrum of literary success, especially as compared to other people that I know and worrying whether I measure up.  It takes way too much energy and is at least as destructive as it is motivating.  I try just to focus on what I can actually affect–i.e., trying to do the best work I can, but that can be pretty boring compared to torturing myself over press and sales and whether or not I’m ever going to be successful–whatever my definition of that is, and it’s constantly changing. It’s like how they say that old is whatever is 15 years older than what you are; that’s what “success” is for me.  Success is whatever I’m not.  And I know that isn’t a thought that’s very good for me or my work.
Rachel Shukert, From Writers Inner Journey

I guess I should stop comparing myself to her, then? 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 things

1. I am annoyed that I like this song. 

It's so manipulative! It feels like a computer wrote a Rolling Stones song. It's right but... it's not quite right. Still, I paid $1.25 on iTunes and listened to it as I walked my dog through the Tenderloin at night. I punched my foot through the fog with that first kick of the drums, completely helpless.

2. After looking over that last post which, granted, is half in jest, I think I need a vacation from the internet. Man, do I.

Idiot Face

It is unbelievable how poorly I photograph. Every once in a while I get a really good one but that is out of 3 million awful shots. Literally 3 million shots of me with no chin, with big black eyes, ravaged. I'm not writing this because I want someone to disagree. I just got a new dress and I took some pictures in it and there were 2 okay photos. TWO!  And it made me so angry.

Who are these photogenic people? I torture myself looking at pictures of girls I don't know, girls I have a mean and secret compulsion to measure myself against, and sometimes think "Whatever. She's not that pretty."

Brooke. Brooke! BROOKE! Yes, she is that pretty. And she takes amazing pictures because she is pretty. She's likely even prettier in real life. And when you find one semi-unflattering image (which is actually not bad at all) among rolls and rolls of evidence to the contrary, this is not proof that you might, in fact, compare.

Anyway, what are you doing, looking at pictures of strangers, sizing them up? How would you feel if someone browsed through every picture you're tagged in on facebook? Can you imagine? There are LOADS of terrible pictures of you there! A stranger might see one and think you are ugly! Yes! Someone could take this nano-second of your life, when you had a bad haircut and your posture was a mess and your chin looks like a little stump, AND THEY WILL DECIDE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU! Karma!

It is unfair to the unphotogenic that pictures have become so important. Fucking facebook. You could show up in a picture anywhere, on anyone's internet! Your ex could see it and be glad you broke up. Your current flame could see it and be embarrassed to be listed "in a relationship" with you. Your ex's new sweetheart could see it and laugh at how much prettier/skinnier/awesomer they are than you. That person you were kind of mean to in 9th grade can look you up and bash the shit out of you.


When I was cashiering I saw two women within the span of an hour wearing fake lashes. The fakest fake lashes I have ever seen. They looked like pieces of electrical tape stuck on their lids. I was really confused, because there's no way they could have thought they looked good in real life. The only justification I could think of was facebook.

Do you realize that how we look in pictures is now more important than how we appear in real life? 

For someone almost completely unphotographable, this is bad news.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It is a mystery I have never solved. After first period on my first day of high school I found bathroom graffiti about myself. In the second stall in the second floor bathroom, someone neatly penned BROOKE F IS A WHORE on the toilet paper dispenser. I hadn't even been in high school for a full hour! Surely there was a Brooke F in a higher grade with a nasty reputation. How awkward for this freshman, to share a name with the school slut.

I searched for this hussy in the school directory. She was not there. Just me. I was the whore! How could this be? Who hated me enough to slander me during the first 50 minutes of school?

There was only one real suspect: Heather from summer school basketball. That bitch would have knifed me if she could have gotten me alone. 

I don't know why she wanted to smash my face with a basketball. It was instantaneous. I think it had to do with my shorts, which were cutoffs. I missed the first two weeks of training because I was on a school trip, and I missed the day they told us no jean shorts. My Umbros were long gone; I cast them off in seventh grade, when I figured out girls hate girls who wear Umbros after elementary school. The cutoffs were all I had and, since NO ONE told me they were forbidden, I wore them every day. 
Layups in my jorts. 
Suicide runs in my jorts. 
Scrimmages in my jorts. 
Trouble with girls AGAIN because of my shorts. 

I later heard from a few girls that they thought I was giving the finger to our coaches and everyone by wearing the cutoffs and I was probably an asshole. These girls eventually learned that I'm not an asshole, but Heather never caught on. She ran laps behind me, whispering "bitch" with each pound of our feet. 

So I guess it was her. I don't know why calling me a whore would be anyone's priority on the first freaking day of school, unless maybe it was my ex traveling back in time? He was pretty fond of that word, too. 

The moral of the story, my friend, is to be very careful about your shorts. You don't know who you're gonna piss off. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

You mean... they ate each other up?

I just finished The Man Who Ate His Boots, by Anthony Brandt. I think you should get this now. Right now.  Even if you're not usually into history/nonfiction stuff, this book is the opposite of trying to sail a wooden boat through pack ice. Meaning it is FAST and EASY, even at almost 400 pages.
The man who ate his boots is Sir John Franklin, one of the "Arctic Knights" searching for the Northwest Passage in the 1800's. It's the obsession of one idiot, John Barrow, that sends these men into the ice again and again and again, never learning a fucking thing. They freeze to death because they want to wear their wool clothes, because they don't learn how to build igloos for shelter, because they don't think for one second savage people who have lived in sub-zero temperatures for hundreds of years could possibly teach them, ENGLISHMEN, anything about survival.
And so they die. Horribly.

I first heard about the final expedition, the Franklin Expedition, while watching a NOVA special on mummies. 30 parties went in search of Franklin and his men after they disappeared in 1846, and the first graves they found were of three sailors on Beechy Island. The bodies were preserved by the ice and in the 1980's anthropologist Owen Beattie exhumed (and defrosted--the guys were ice cubes) the remains to figure out why they died. Lead poisoning, from their canned food, had something to do with it. Lead poisoning will kill you, but it will make you crazy first. Beattie's discovery enlightens the terrifying behavior of the other 120-some men. 
They had two ships: The Terror and The Erebus. And they sat, entrenched in ice, for two years. One of the ships was crushed and sank. Franklin died (possibly of a heart attack). The remaining officers and crew abandoned the ships and went in search of food. What did they bring with them, you ask? Oh, not much. Just a fourteen-hundred pound life boat full of arctic necessities, like silk scarves and scented soaps and slippers and, oh yes, a writing desk.
That's what stuck with me. These men were dying, weak with scurvy and hunger and fear, and they decided it would be a good idea to drag a giant desk across the arctic? I remember watching the tape in the dark, my legs shrinking up to my chest as I imagined them saying "Oh yes, well we must bring the writing desk!" like that was normal and smart and not crazy at all. That kind of crazy, when everyone has caught it, when the most idiotic decision seems like a fantastic idea and how logical! that scares the bejezus out of me. That's probably not how that scene played out in real life, but it's how it played out in my head, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.
The men on Beechy Island were the only ones to be buried. Some were found face-down in the snow, fully clothed (why oh why weren't they wearing fur?) and still carrying their papers. The remains of others told a gruesome tale. The men, starving and probably mad, turned to cannibalism. As if this story wasn't scary enough. It's something you don't want to think about for too long, but maybe you can't help it.

It is a fearful thing to imagine what must go through the mind of a man reduced to eating the body of another,  someone he has known personally, has broken ship's biscuit  with... How is it even possible to saw hands off arms, or to  break into a skull for the brains inside? Very few of us have ever been hungry enough to know. (Brandt)

The Franklin Expedition (his third, by the way. He was 59 when he left England forever) makes up only a small part of The Man Who Ate His Boots. It is all fascinating. Brandt is a great writer. You will also never want to make a joke about scurvy again. That shit is nasty. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It was a horrible shock to be reminded that John C. Rielly is not actually Dr. Steve Brule. It made me a little sad. I want him to be real! Maybe if we clap he will be real. Maybe if we send the bones.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So it was a new cake recipe and it didn't really rise, and I discovered our stove is slanted, but I made this tasty cake to celebrate the 4th.

(That blog is amazing. I can't wait to try more of her recipes!)