The Elusive Muse

mood: antsy | drinking: h2o

rust_bird

Every writing workshop I’ve ever attended encourages you to carve out a hole in your schedule: an hour in the morning, a chunk of the afternoon, and sit there with your pen and paper, your keyboard and screen, and wait patiently for the muse to show up.

Sometimes, they say, just sitting there writing nonsense, pouring out your stream-of-consciousness rambling, will suddenly turn into something productive. Something that you’ll read later and say, “By Jove, there’s something good going on here!”

And it’s true. It works. If you can force yourself to find the time and then sit there, quietly.

But there’s another tactic that I’ve been considering, since my quiet times with blank pages have been few and far between of late. I’ve decided that perhaps you need to get off your ass, go out there, hunt down your inspiration, drag it home by the tail and make it your bitch.

Sally forth, armed with pocket-sized paper pad and tell yourself, “Today I WILL find something to write about. I will inspect every nook and cranny of my day until a whisp of an idea creeps from the corners and makes itself known.”

Perhaps I’ve decided to go on the prowl because it sounds easier, somehow, than adding another task to my to-do list that says, “Sit still.”

Perhaps I’m in denial of my need to stop moving, stop doing, just stop for a second.

Perhaps.

I’ve been so busy, for the past several years. Poetry book, cinepoems, film festivals, new job, new house, and, of course, the ever-expanding bun in my oven.

But even if I weren’t busy with all my various and sundry extracurriculars, I’d likely find a way to fill time.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how all these time-saving technological wonders have spawned such a wealth of ways to waste time.

Facebook, while a great way to connect with long-lost friends, enemies, and people you barely remember, is also an incredible time-suck. Even if you don’t subscribe to the Farmville/Mafia Wars/Vampire Attack drivel.

It’s like the more we invent to make our lives easier, the more we remove ourselves from the actual living part of life.

We had friends over recently and at one point in the evening I looked up from my laptop to see at least four of us with heads bent over computers, and the other two had their iPhones out. Yeah. We’re a fun bunch.

I’m not against the interwebs, obviously. And I’m not against smart phones, either, although my own phone remains a small, sad little phone-only device. (I don’t want to be constantly connected.)

I just think that unless we consciously unplug, disconnect and shut down for awhile, we might miss out on something truly spectacular that’s happening off-screen.

I’ve been unhappy with my poems lately. They have slowed to a trickle, and all I seem to be able to write about is the unknown little person inside me who is slowly but surely rearranging my life.

I suppose it’s not really a bad thing that my poems have such a singular subject–after all, this is a pretty monumental thing that’s happening inside me. But there are other things happening outside of me that I’d like to pin down on paper.

So perhaps I’ve just talked myself in a great big circle back to the beginning of this post. Perhaps I’ve just convinced myself to sit down and shut up and see what the muse brings to the table.

Or maybe I can do both… Maybe I can be aggressive and hunt my inspiration down one day, then sit passively by and listen to the ether the next day.

It’s worth a shot. Let’s try it and see what happens.

-Lo, who just likes to say that she’ll make something her bitch.

Avatars & Armchairs

Mood: spoiled | Drinking: black tea

revolt

Going Green

She looks so alive
standing in the street
staring down soldiers
head covered, fist raised.

The vermilion shock of blood
only floods the streets
with more defiant green.

Bullets cannot quell
a heart bent on freedom.
Fear will not force these voices
into silence.

In California, we add emerald
to our facebook avatars
in a show of “solidarity”
with a cause
we barely begin to understand.

We’ve grown so fat on freedom
we expect to affect a revolution
from our armchairs.

Green is just a color
that costs us nothing
more than money.

*****

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile. It was inspired in part by these photos.

-Lo, from her armchair.

Friendtastic

Mood: dithering  | Drinking: iced tea

facebook1

Obviously, today’s topic of discussion is facebook. BUT. Let’s get one item of business out of the way so as not to be talking around the pink elephant teetering on the coffee table, yes?

My updates have been pathetic of late. I hear you. I know this. It’s not accidental. It’s not even laziness, not really. Here’s the big secret: In about T-minus 14 days, give or take a few, there’s going to be a whole new ladonnawitmer.com banging about on the interwebs. So shiny with newness, you’ll need Olsen-sized shades to stand the glare. I swear.

Part of this fabulous new update will include an absolutely amazing blog space. So I have been loath to post in the old format when I know something so much better is just around the bend. Patience is a virtue I am lacking…

That said, I will do my damndest to post more regularly so you aren’t clicking here in vain. Okay? Okay. Now to the topic at hand.

Remember friendster? Oh, the internet days of yore. I joined friendster way back in the day when it was the new big thing, and the only one of its kind. And then I quickly abandoned it for myspace, newer bigger thing. I found lots of old friends on myspace, made a few new ones (hi, Jillie), and still maintain a space there.

But then, in 2006, facebook opened its door to every tom dick and mary, and we all began flocking to it. Myself included. The difference, I’ve found, with facebook, is that there are just SO many more people there.

My friends list includes a dude I went to kindergarten with, high school classmates I have neither seen nor spoken to since graduation, a girl I worked at Dairy Queen with in 1990, an ex-boyfriend from my college days, fellow Pulliam Fellows from 1994, my cousin from Indiana, my best friend from San Francisco and my new boss.

It’s a harrowing cross-section of my life, with people from literally every stage, every decade, every major experience.

I’ve had a delightful time reconnecting with some long-lost acquaintances, renewed a few meaningful friendships, and cyber-stalked people I’ve been curious about for years.

The question, “What ever happened to so-and-so?” has never been easier to answer. Now you know exactly what happened to them, and you have pictures to prove it.

Since I live 2,000 miles from where I grew up, I never run into anyone from high school at the gas station, never see an old college friend at the grocery store, never have to worry about an unexpected ex-sighting whilst wearing my fat jeans and a limp ponytail.

But that also means that I’m fairly well cut off from my old life/lives and all the news that goes with it. Facebook is a treasure trove of information, and I’m happy as a pig in shit wallowing in it.

Here’s the thing, though… I tend to be pretty conservative with my “add friend” button. If I see a little picture square of a bona fide long-lost friend, I’m only too happy to request their virtual friendship. I tend to leave old acquaintances and ancient co-workers to their own devices, however. If they send me a friend request, I’ll happily accept, but I’m not running around collecting names to drive up my friend count.

So I have trouble understanding why the little brother of a former classmate — someone whose name/face I know, but with whom I cannot recall having one single conversation — would want to be friends. Or rather, would want to add me to his friend list and then never, ever speak of it again.

If I request a friend, I usually follow up with a “OMG, I haven’t talked to you in 15 years, it’s so nice to see you, how are you, tell me all about your life, blah blah blah.”

What’s the social networking standard of conduct for virtual friendship? Shouldn’t there be some sort of actual socializing and/or networking going on? You would think. Right?

So heads up, if you’re one of the head and shoulders on my friends list, I’m gonna expect you to say hi once in awhile. That includes you, dude from college with whom I shared many an weekend adventure. Start yapping!

In the spirit of equal sharing, I will start writing on walls with abandon momentarily. Consider yourself warned!

Meanwhile, keep an eye on this space. I promise you the transformation will be well worth the wait!

-Lo, social networking butterfly.

Stupid Girls

cancan_bathroomMood: Soapboxy
Drinking: Water

I swear, the dumbest things make the rounds on the internet. This is news to no one, I know.

But today I saw this awful list posted on facebook, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen it.

Apparently a gaggle of single women (girls?) out there think it’s undeniably profound, the ultimate guide to how a guy should treat his girlfriend. And so they keep it alive, posting it on the profiles of the boys they’re crushing on, thereby ensuring said boy is scared off forever.

But you can’t share my angst if you don’t know what I’m talking about, so I’m going to post the offending list here. I apologize in advance.

Here we go…

When she walks away from you mad [Follow her]
When she stares at your mouth
[Kiss her]
When she pushes you or hits you
[Grab her and don’t let go]
When she starts cussing at you [Kiss her and tell her you love her]
When she’s quiet [Ask her what’s wrong]
When she ignores you [Give her your attention]
When she pulls away [Pull her back]
When you see her at her worst [Tell her she’s beautiful]
When you see her start crying [Just hold her and don’t say a word]
When you see her walking [Sneak up and hug her waist from behind]
When she’s scared [Protect her]
When she lays her head on your shoulder [Tilt her head up and kiss her]
When she steals your favorite hat [Let her keep it and sleep with it for a night]
When she teases you [Tease her back and make her laugh]
When she doesn’t answer for a long time [Reassure her that everything is okay]
When she looks at you with doubt [Back yourself up]
When she says that she likes you [She really does, more than you could understand]
When she grabs at your hands [Hold hers and play with her fingers]
When she bumps into you [Bump into her back and make her laugh]
When she tells you a secret [Keep it safe and untold]
When she looks at you in your eyes [Don’t look away until she does]
When she misses you [She’s hurting inside]
When you break her heart [The pain never really goes away]
When she says it’s over [She still wants you to be hers]
When she reposts this bulletin [She wants you to read it]
– Stay on the phone with her even if she’s not saying anything.
– When she’s mad hug her tight and don’t let go.
– When she says she’s ok don’t believe it, talk with her.
– Because 10 yrs later she’ll remember you.
– Call her at 12:00am on her birthday to tell her you love her.
– Call her before you sleep and after you wake up.
– Treat her like she’s all that matters to you.
– Tease her and let her tease you back.
– Stay up all night with her when she’s sick.
– Watch her favorite movie with her or her favorite show even if you think it’s stupid.
– Give her the world.
– Let her wear your clothes.
– When she’s bored and sad, hang out with her.
– Let her know she’s important.
– Kiss her in the pouring rain.
– When she runs up to you crying, the first thing you say is, “Whose ass am I kicking, babe?”

*Sigh*

Ok. Now do you feel my pain?

It’s just the most juvenile perspective of love, as if the author watched every Nora Ephron rom com, read every bodice ripper, and bought into every fairytale version of love she’s ever heard.

Girls who believe this are just setting themselves up for some deep-seated disappointment. I don’t care how stellar your partner is, he (or she) will NEVER be able to live up to this list. Nor should they.

Because if you take this list to heart, then a girl can treat her partner like absolute shit and still get treated like some kind of Disney princess. Kick your lover in the teeth, call him a motherfucker, cry and whine and bitch and wail and stop brushing your teeth altogether, and he will happily turn the other cheek while telling you how beautiful and wonderful and magical you are.

Really?

Nowhere in this ridonk-ulous piece of fantasy does it mention what the girl should do for her partner. Nowhere does it talk about mutual respect, or having consideration for the other party’s feelings.

Perhaps in the earliest throes of infatuation, before you’ve let Wonderboy into your pants, you can spit in his eye and he’ll still find you sexy. But let me assure you that 10 years down the road if you’re still spitting, he’ll be spitting right back. Assuming he’s still around.

So here’s what I really want to say to the girls who are circulating this bit of idiocy: Grow up! And pick up a bit of self-respect while you’re at it. No lover is ever going to give you everything that you need, want, and think you deserve. It’s impossible.

So quit waiting for Prince Charming to read your mind and pick up your glass slipper. Pick up your own damn shoe.

Stop loading up your lover with unrealistic expectations and feeling sorry for yourself when they can’t perform, when they don’t make you feel the way you want them to.

And ask yourself this: If your current crush gave you this list, do you imagine for one second that you could live up to it? Because it goes both ways.

If you want respect, give it. If you want to be heard, listen. If you want to be treated like you are the only girl in the world, then treat your partner like a treasure, too.

The world could use a lot fewer stupid girls and spoiled princesses and a lot more women who understand that true love requires sacrifice, selflessness, and commitment.

Rant over.

-Lo, packing up her own princess tendencies.

Boycotts are Bollocks

bookshelfMood: Bothered
Drinking: Tea from the ‘bucks

This is not a timely post. It is, in fact, rather behind the times.

All the Christian brouhaha over The Golden Compass movie was last winter, and all the Harry Potter paranoia is old news.

But I was wasting time on facebook yesterday and noticed that one of my virtual acquaintances had joined a group called “Do NOT support ‘The Golden Compass’.”

After taking a moment to indulge in a hearty eye roll, I clicked over to the group to see what idiocies they were spouting, and found more than a few.

Such as: “The movie… is designed to be very attractive in the hope unsuspecting parents will take their children to see the the movie and that the children will want the books for Christmas.”

And: “In the final book a boy and girl kill God so they can do as they please.”

Really. And people wonder why I’m such a misanthrope.

Seriously, this shit is ridiculous. I’d wager a hefty sum that most people who panicked and inundated their friends with email forwards urging them to “Boycott The Golden Compass!” never even bothered to read the books. They just regurgitated the paranoia they heard from somebody else.

The same thing happened with Harry Potter – so many people with their knickers in a bunch, but they never bothered to stop and be reasonable for a moment. They just ran like lemmings off the cliff – “Witches are bad! Magic is evil! Harry Potter hates Jesus!”

Yet these same hypochondriacs don’t seem to have any issues with the magic in Narnia or Middle Earth, because the authors of those books were supposedly Christian.

Whatever.

I read His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman’s trilogy of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) several years ago and found them to be fascinating science fiction stories. The kind of tales of fantasy and parallel worlds that engage imagination in the best sort of way.

Yes, there are spiritual elements to the books. But I don’t get my philosophy of life from science fiction. I don’t think anybody does. Except for maybe Tom Cruise.

The thing that horrifies me the most about all of this boycotting and book burning is the idea that children can’t think for themselves. I read the Wizard of Oz books as a kid, but I didn’t go run and jump into a tornado so I could get to the Emerald City.

Tales of fiction and fantasy exist to help us dream. To take us into new worlds, to lead us on improbable adventures. Part of the fun of being a kid is reading books about things that aren’t real. Hell – that’s part of the fun of being an adult, too.

I’m not going to rip a book out of my child’s hands because the author might hold to a different belief system than I do.

The most dangerous thing in all of this insanity is not the books, or the movies spawned from the books. It’s the thought police. It’s the people who think their God is really small enough to be threatened by an agnostic or athiest’s work of fiction.

Safe to say that my children can read their fill of books about dragons and muggles and daemons and fairies and goblins and wizards and talking lions and armored bears.

In fact, all of those books are already sitting on my bookshelf, just waiting to take a new reader on a grand adventure.

And I won’t stand in the way.

-Lo, who thinks it’s not the athiests who are the big bad wolves.

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