I Celebrate Myself

Well I’m back in that bar (the one with Jesse’s fucked up playlist), waiting once again for my husband to attend some goddamn film screening, one that will surely have a Q&A that goes on and on and on and that he won’t leave early because he’s so polite.

I have learned a lot about film due to being married to this guy, and I am grateful for it and have really enjoyed becoming more knowledgeable and developing an ability to have thoughts about even the weirdest experimental cinema. But at this point just right this moment I am extremely over it. Some weird-ass 45 minute movie that’s just like a guy swinging a camera back and forth and the soundtrack is the sound of paper ripping or some shit. I spend my entire career trying to get my students to “Be excited about art” and “have ideas about art” and I go home and complain about how unwilling they are to engage with art and then when my husband is like “you could come to the screening, it starts right after your class ends and is right next door” I am like “…………………………….yeah maybe” and he is like “you’re not going to come are you” and I am like “no”

No, I have to walk into town, eat a huge bowl of hot and sour soup while reading a scathing review of “The Fate of the Furious” and then get approximately two beers at the bar where all the grad students hang out and do their grading. The person next to me is grading AT THIS MOMENT.

Actually I just remembered the screening is “Daughters of the Dust,” which is a rad movie. I’m still glad I came into town and got soup and beer though, you know, Wednesdays are a long-ass day and momma’s tired.

Last night was the first night it was warm enough to sit outside at dusk and there were just immediately swarms of mosquitos. They come IMMEDIATELY the moment it is even mildly summertime; there is no period of time in this part of the country where you can sit outside at night, unless you are willing to do it in the freezing cold, or right next to a smoky fire. It is the only thing I don’t like about this place. When I see pictures of my friends relaxing outside on a balmy summer’s eve I get very jealous and sad. Having windows with no screens in them!!! Such a thing would be unthinkable here. I remember reading somewhere about all the refugees from the Reign of Terror who fled to New England (weird to call them refugees as they were specifically members of the aristocracy, but to be fair they were legitimately fleeing for their lives) and their letters home are full of psychedelic, horror-struck descriptions of the hordes of immense biting insects that fling themselves against the window as soon as night falls. “Mon dieu!”

I am not reading anything interesting, apart from scholarship for my work, which I assume you don’t want to hear about, which is fine and I don’t blame you. I haven’t read a novel in forever. The last movie I saw in the theater was Ghost in the Shell, which was just sort of nothing. Again, the only reason I saw it was because my husband teaches the original Japanese version(s) and he was interested in the American live action remake. It was weirdly Americanized, like it was all about authenticity and individualism and people brooding about how can they be human if they are actually a machine. WHO CARES. The Japanese version isn’t really like that, or is like that in a way less self-centered way, plus, as my old man noted, in the original, “The Major really loves catchin’ crooks,” which didn’t seem super motivating to Scar-Jo. Also, it’s been years now and can we all admit, with love, that Scar-Jo is not a good actress? She has an incredible FACE, a face you could watch for hours, and I fully respect and understand why she is a famous actress, and am even fine with it–I enjoy looking at her face as much as anybody–but lord

Also the score was different and worse. The original theme song is AN ABSOLUTE BANGER

Every single preview we saw was a preview for a movie that was either a new entry in a franchise, or a remake of an existing film. We are living in a weird time. How many times do we, as a people, require being re-told the story of Beauty and the Beast, or the Power Rangers, or Transformers, or Planet of the Apes? I get that folktales are not meant to seem novel–their charm comes partially from their familiarity–but there’s something pretty fucking sick in contemplating the lunatic amounts of money spent to just show us those fucking apes again. The entire world could be fed for 10 years with the money spent on just the movies whose previews we saw before Ghost in the Shell. And of course G in the S itself is a remake.

We also saw King Kong, which I would describe as “fucking terrible.” My old man said “that was a movie made by people who have never had any kind of experience.” King Kong of course is also a remake, or a franchise entry, however you want to think of it. People of the future will wonder what our obsession with gigantic and/or talking apes and heroic alien car-men had to do with why we elected Donald Trump president and effectively brought an end to the Western liberal tradition. Actually I think it’ll be pretty obvious. “As you can see,” the professors of the future will say to their students, “their culture had become totally hollowed out by commodification and a worship of the profit motive, which evacuated morality from their worldview and chained them to an endless cycle of talking monkey movies and using data and spreadsheets to justify war.” “What’s a movie,” a student will ask. The professor will sigh. “Patrick, did you do the reading for today?” the professor will ask. The professor will go home and wonder yet again if they ought to implement pop reading quizzes even though it is infantilizing to their students and beneath their dignity as a practicing intellectual. They will check their work email even though they know they ought to be meditating or something. Will their work email contain a message from the business manager telling them that because they used the corporate card instead of the commercial card to pay for the visiting artist’s dinner, they will have to pay out of pocket for the alcohol that was consumed, even though there is enough money in the grant the professor received to cover everything? Only time will tell

We watched the first episode of Westworld too. It was fine. Then the next night I said “well, should we keep watching Westworld?” and my old man said “you know, on our deathbed, are we really gonna wish we had watched more episodes of Westworld?”

There are six school days left in the year! I just realized.

Here are my summer plans, listed in order of priority:
– revise my book
– write an article about this stupid opera I’m going to see in July
– can enough tomatoes to last us until next tomato season! This is a big goal
– start exercising again
– wear sunscreen every day

Our wonderful Best New England friends refer to this coming summer as “spring break every day,” and they send us regular supportive texts about it, which I love. We have big plans. Croquet, tubing, many river trips, game nights, fires in the yard, moscow mules in the copper cups I bought just for this purpose, dog parties. How amazing is it that our very best friends here we met randomly at a bar?? When did you ever hear of such a thing? And they are ten years younger than us (to be fair, ten years younger than my old man; they are more like thirteen years younger than yours truly. One time I introduced them to a friend who is my age and she said “are those your young friends you’ve told me about” and I said yes and she said “I can tell because of their beautiful skin”), which is invigorating. They are fucking delightful. We learned much later that they intentionally set out to befriend us, by lying about how they already knew how to play Settlers of Catan. I am so happy!

Do you know what else, I am turning forty this summer. The days of #PushinForty are quickly coming to a close. Awhile ago I texted Katy to let her know I’d made eggplant parmesan and she responded “we have been pushin forty for so long.”

What should I do for my fortieth?! What Does One Do For One’s Fortieth? Maybe I should do something I’ve never done before in my life, like run down main street naked. Really, why not? On your deathbed, are you really gonna wish you hadn’t run down main street naked? I doubt it. No way. Your grandchild will be like “Grandma remember how you ran down main street naked” and you’ll be like “yes child….that…..owned….”

Honestly I am fine with turning forty. FORTY!!!!!!! God, it sounds hilarious. But it’s fine. I wouldn’t be twenty again for a million dollars. I am truly such a piece of shit idiot now but I was a thousand times worse at age 20; no thank you.

I am approaching (*trying to approach) my aging body with an aesthetically detached evaluative ethos. My hands look crazy to me–the wrinkles and crags in my hands, how bony they are, the myriad little scars that have piled up over the decades. Beautiful! I don’t give a shit. Here are the scars you can see on my hands:
– scar on right thumb where at age 7 I slammed my thumb so hard in the door of the house we were renting while my Dad and his buddies were building our actual house across the canyon that my thumbnail fully fell all the way off
– scar on my left thumb where, during a wrestling bout with my husband during the first few months we were dating, in the year 2003, the skin of my thumb caught on his ACTUAL BRACES and a big ol’ gash opened up
– scar on my left palm where I was de-seeding an avocado with foolish haste at Katy’s house in Long Beach and the knife slipped and jabbed deeply into my palm and we both screamed and stared at my palm and Katy yelled WHAT DO WE DO????? and then nothing happened, no blood or anything?? Just a deep, deep wound in my flesh? But no blood at all? Still a very weird experience
– scar on my right wrist where you will recall I slashed myself while washing dishes too quickly, which necessitated a sprint to the Emergency Room and like 24 stitches or something, and that guy sponge-bathing blood off the bottoms of my feet

That’s just my hands! Other Classic Scars:
– big blob of scar tissue on my hip from where I literally just fell down while walking one day
– huge round scar on right elbow from epic bike crash in high school while biking down our dirt road with my brother, and I flew over the handlebars and skidded into a nettle patch and when my brother came running up I said “Clyde honey I think I broke my arm,” which I believe is a line from “Witches of Eastwick,” a movie we were really into at that time
– tiny scar on outside of right big toe from sting ray stinging me in Baja, Spring Break 1994!!!!!
– weird long scar down right shin from Mr. Snoopy clawing me while playing
– scar underneath right boob from mole removal (remember, the dermatologist pronounced me cancer-free, saying “your body just makes weird moles”)
– almost invisible scar down left temple that now only my mother can see, from when I broke my jaw skiing and slid across the harsh snow on my face for many yards before coming to a stop unconscious in a pool of my own blood, a very cool true story

Not so bad, when it comes to scars. Ach, the scars tell the story of a life, me boy! Also, are there scars inside your mouth? If so I must have an unusual number, due to broken jaw and myriad oral surgeries.

I always think of a story my English teacher in high school told often, and which we loved, about an English professor she’d had in college, who had had polio in childhood, and was in a wheelchair, and both his hands were gnarled (by the polio) into permanent middle fingers, which he used to gesticulate with while lecturing, which his students thought was cool as hell, and one day in lecture she (my teacher) was leaning the entire weight of her head onto the tip of a ballpoint pin whose other end was resting in a groove in her desk, and the pen slipped, and jabbed all the way through the roof of her mouth and stuck there, with blood spurting out, and everyone screaming, and the professor with the polio gesticulating with his two middle fingers and yelling for someone to go get help, and she (my teacher) felt so stupid and embarrassed, because she was usually too shy to even talk in class, and was now making this huge spectacle of herself.

I think of this, and similar stories, every time I get annoyed with my students for basically acting like they have no conception of how physical reality works (e.g. they think that if they text under their desks I can’t see, but like…there is nothing impeding my view down there?? And it seems like anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of concrete reality would perceive that? But they don’t)

In ten more years I will be in the terrible life phase of actually having conscious memories of when my parents turned my age; I remember my dad’s 50th birthday party extremely well, because my parents made us go sleep at our neighbors’ house while they threw a huge kegger in our house. Our neighbors at that time lived in this tiny cabin that only had one bedroom and this sort of attic room you accessed via a trap door; they had two sons and a daughter and we all had to sleep in two twin beds. And both our sets of parents, along with the parents of most of our classmates, were just partying up the road at my house til the wee hours. I wonder what we ate for dinner! Boy those were the days, when parents just left their children layin’ around all over town, fending for themselves; you’d probably be arrested for it today, but we were totally fucking fine and had a simply super time. This also makes me think of all the fun times we had sitting on the roof of the car while my dad did donuts out in the meadow by where our cistern was, a frosty Budweiser in one hand, honking the horn joyfully with the other. Rural 80s childhoods rule

How about this?

I know, right

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2 Responses to I Celebrate Myself

  1. Adrien says:

    Totally unrelated to anything you have posted, but I’d love to hear your review of the Girls finale if you happened to watch it.

  2. Greg Machlin says:

    “Some weird-ass 45 minute movie that’s just like a guy swinging a camera back and forth and the soundtrack is the sound of paper ripping or some shit.”

    Oh good God, this sounds exactly like Michael Snow’s “Wavelength,” a terrible movie that gives a bad name to experimental film everywhere. The soundtrack to Wavelength is literal torture. I HATE “Wavelength.”

    You’ve got a great natural writing style. I like your blog!

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