April 24th, 2003


Subtleties 23

In the midnight hour, my brain cells are hoops through which thoughts refuse to jump. I've poked at this with tired dissatisfaction and now I must give up and go to bed with the hope that there are no typoos.

We'll just leave that one in for luck, 'kay?

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batteries low

Yesterday Neil Gershenfeld from MIT came to speak at our company. Before the talk started I said to my co-worker, "This is going to go right over my head." She said sternly: "Don't be silly! You don't even know what he's going to say!" About thirty seconds into his talk my brain tapped me on the shoulder, said, "Gonna take a snack break," and didn't bother to come back. NB was engaging and covered a lot of ground fast, snapping through complex, scary diagrams that he treated like slideshow wallpaper. Mostly he seemed to be talking about "personal fabrication," which--in the evolution of machine production--is rather like looking at the first crude prototype of a Star Trek food and clothing synthesizer, converting computer requests into the manufacture of items, which sounds pretty mundane until you learn that an MIT student has actually e-mailed a bicycle to his sister in Australia. Pretty wild.

So, I am tired. Like, chronically physically tired, among other things, and it's starting to drag at my concentration. There's an art-school truism that says "don't erase." Don't stop to erase bad and inaccurate lines in your drawing, just keep drawing, let your hand work, keep it moving. Flowing. Which is what I've been doing with the s/x stuff. The last few times though, I've been erasing and redoing too much, working the paper. It's starting to rip. Last night was especially bad, and I'm not entirely happy with what I wrote. It wasn't fun. Originally I was just playing around, getting my kicks and ya-yas out, but now the characters are taking their lives seriously, and I'm feeling itchy and duty-bound, like I have to write every day, and I'm worried that I'm going to step back at some point and realize that the picture is out of whack, like badly copied fan-art where the nose is askew and the eyes too far apart and it's all vaguely creepy.

A lot of people have friended me and I feel slightly anxious, like maybe people think I do this all the time, non-stop.

So I'm probably going to stop writing this for a bit. Stop thinking about it anyway, working myself up each day to the plan of writing. I might write more, but if it's going to happen, I want it to just happen. And maybe I'll write something else.

Okay, now I feel like Derek Zoolander making a moue of his lips and announcing his retirement in earnest, self-important tones--cheesyyyyyy. Can someone please step up to play Hansel so I can nap? Cool.


the wonder of birds

I bought the book microserfs to read at lunch, which I may regret, and had a grinder made by the Grand Central Bakery, which is one of the seven wonders of the world Pioneer Square, and then came back and watched laurashapiro's and Morgan Dawn's new RayK/Fraser vid "The Wonder of Birds," which I don't really have any words to describe, as during lunch my brain was apparently replaced bite by bite with salami. You use a word like "beautiful" to describe a vid and it can only sound lame, but there's no way to convey the leaping uplift, the feeling beating upwards like wings as love between two people rises--and it sounds "romantic," but instead it's exhilarating, sharp like snow.

I am still so very tired. I'm about to have a one-on-one with my manager and will be trying to figure out what her current perception of me is--the precise temperature of her appreciation--so that I can decide whether or not to ask for the rest of the day off. Our team just got a minor reorg. Two of our tech guys were reassigned elsewhere. It's pretty much a good thing for all concerned, but it reminds me yet again of just how fundamentally unstable this place is. In the same way that Seattle is earthquake prone, our company can seem settled, but then one day, wham, you're going to get shaken up. It's inevitable.

Someone seems to have magnetized my desk so that it picks up any stray office debris from the Asian market across the street. Wasabi peanuts, Japanese lantern, Hello Kitty balloon.

The wasabi peanuts look a bit like Trix. It'd be kind of funny to mix some in with young Johnny's breakfast cereal. Or maybe I could make them into a necklace.


writing the cliche

So I was having this whole meta thought the other day on writing Subtleties (I keep wanting to decapitalize that, so that it's even more subtle--subtle and pretentious!), which was about writing cliches. Pretty much everything I wrote is a big honking cliche--prostitution, rich and successful Xander, Spike's writing, certain relationship dynamics. But at the risk of spouting cheez-whiz, I think there's something potentially powerful in writing what moves you, and a lot of what moves me, gets me where I live, is commonplace. Style, clothing, food, furniture, jewelry. Moments of being or togetherness that are like snapshots, catalog ads of people lounging, living the good life in silken pajamas.

Call each of these things a sign. Each sign is something shared--even mass produced--like the idea of a cable-knit sweater that thousands of people could order and wear. But each sign collects meanings once you own a copy. The signs get stitched to other signs, like when you mark a piece of paper with random dots and then connect them in radiating patterns. So if you write about a sweater, and the way someone wears it, it's possible to pull in other associations and connotations that make the ordinary into something richer, because maybe that type of sweater suggests to you autumn in Maine, fishermen, the smell of salt, broken wood, strong hands, sand, lobster traps--and this thing is another layer of signs, a lot of which may be a bit common and trite as well, but you've got a larger vocabulary now, more connections, and a better chance of stringing together words in new and different combinations to find an emotion someone recognizes but hasn't seen expressed in quite that way before.

The most ordinary junk of our lives can become a collage. Labels like "outsider art," "naïve art," or "postmodern art" are broad and not especially useful, but under those labels can fall certain types of assemblage, like shrines made from bottlecaps and broken glass and gum wrappers. And in the same kind of way, our lives are made from meals and clothes and money and steaks on the grill and the smell of candles when you snuff them out, sex and anxiety and cut grass and Mondays and the monotone of rain, which are all connected to and evoked by the sweater that someone pulls on in the morning.

And I know I'm just making lists, but I'm big on catalogs and lexicons and what they say.

All of that babble above seemed interesting when I wrote it a few hours ago, but now...eh.

I just belatedly watched the Angel episode "Sacrifice." Collapse )


mother of god

I am grumpy tonight. For no especially good reason. My laser death eyes are turned on and scanning the crowd.

Am I the only one who finds "Hollywood Squares" pathetically creepy, by the way? Alec Baldwin, Gilbert Gottfried, French Stewart--if I were stranded in deep space with these people, I would toss *myself* out the airlock. Jesus wept.

This is random. I am watching in my desultory way Tuesday's Smallville and, no spoilers, but Lex is the Best Boyfriend Ever. And his bald head and pretty swan neck are like sculpted ice cream.

For the record: very sick of viruses. Very, very sick of seeing them in my inbox. Die, viruses, die. Cancer, as a random hazard of nature, is not hard to understand. The gratuitous fuckwittedness of actual people who claim human sentience, on the other hand--I really have no words.

I want to write, I want to sleep, I want to turn my brain off.

I need cuddling.