Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow day in Starbucks

I really must put in fifteen minutes or so trying to come up with something for my Sat. morning writing exercise. The parameters are pretty clear--the action is being observed by a group, the scene should start in the middle of the action, and there has to be a moment when the character is described by someone else. I wonder how many people will have her looking at herself in the mirror-maybe none, because she is supposed to be being watched by others. I already blew all of my suggestions by throwing them out to the class during our online meeting, so I can't use any of them. Retirement party, wedding, bachelorette party...Where else do people gather to do things? An AA meeting, that would be like the beginning of Fight Club. An AA meeting where she's not actually an alcoholic. A yoga class. The fat girl in the yoga class. A meditation group. An operating room and she's the  patient. One valuable piece of advice from the class is how when you're writing, you should just keep putting the words together. Subject verb direct object, over and over and over and trust the process. Weight Watchers meeting where I can use that line Liz heard once from a woman who was worried because she ate a lot of carrots. The guy leading the meeting said, "Honey, ain't nobody here because we ate too many carrots." A reading where someone is being disruptive. A classroom. The new teacher. Of course, my person would be a hot male teacher who all the girls get crushes on. The hot male teacher at an all girls boarding school.

The high school aged girls at St. Mary's Boarding School were all a-twitter. The new teacher was coming and he wasn't a prune faced nun or an elderly priest with deadly breath--he was a student teacher, still in college only--some of them counted on their fingers underneath the cafeteria table--- like, five years older than them. Nancy Woodrow, whose parents allowed her to smoke outside  of the house on Christmas breaks, reminded them how in the real world, the world outside of these stone walls of St. Mary's, if they were like twenty and he was 25, no one would even care if they dated. So, that meant it really wasn't that far-fetched to think that something could happen now, or at least the beginning of something.

Eight a.m. in the classroom and it smelled like...I don't know what because I don't know what a classroom smells like anymore and chalk doesn't smell like anything so I am not going to compare it to that.

Starbucks is perhaps not the best place to attempt to focus on one's writing as it is distracting and
there is a kid sitting next to me and then his friend and we will be hearing everything they have to say and they don't mind the close proximity because they are European (stereotype, I know), but I will mind because I do not have ear buds and then the girl on the other side of us is on the phone, talking quietly, but talking nonetheless. And a child to the other side of me, whose mother just threatened to take away her dessert and cocoa if she didn't start behaving. 

The French teacher was late. Again. Or "allots" as she would tell her students. She spoke with a slight accent, even though they knew that she was from Moscow, Idaho. She had spent two years in Paris, with a lover, that's the rumor anyway, an older married man. It didn't work out and so here she was back in the states, stuck with these high school students who she probably though were beneath her. This intelligence was according to Nancy Woodward, who seemed to know these things, she always knew when they were going to get out of class early or when on of the nuns was going to have a nervous breakdown.

You see, though, this is not the middle of things. The middle of things would be a spelling B. The spelling word the next student got was "diverticulitis." He cleared his throat, he was a slight boy with a beaky nose that his mother prayed he would grow into as his father had not. One could dream. They all had dreams.

Describe an event from a particular moment as it's happening. Describe the place. That means you have locate it somewhere in particular==a church, a swimming pool, ion the middle of a swim meet or a race of some kind. A library.  A coffee shop--what are some events that happen? How about a murder investigation? I feel like in the class I am falling into the category of a genre writer--someone who writes about gory things. Lots of books start with the weather, how about starting with a hair cut or a hair salon or a dog show? I don't know anything about what it's like to be at a dog show, but I suppose I am meant to just put one word in front of the other. An audition? Opening night of a play or the cast party afterwards when the girl who flubbed her lines walks in. (Aside: I find it annoying when people think that everything their children does is adorable). I guess I've never tried to write an opening to a murder investigation--it would need to be at a lovely home or a garden or a party, like something from an Agatha Christie novel. A barn, a man trying to milk the cows. (Are these guys fighting or are they just kidding around? I wonder if it's weird to be speaking English all the time with someone else, since this guy is Swedish and the other guy is French, but neither one maybe speaks French or Swedish.

The girl looked like she was sleeping until you noticed that her head was twisted funny and then you might see that the red pillow under her head was not a red pillow but a white one soppy with blood and then you might take into consideration a few other things-- that her blue eyes weren't quite closed, that she was fully dressed even though it was much past lights out, that her dorm room window was wide open, no wonder the room was chilly, Joe and Doug, the police officers called to the scene did what they could to keep the area secure, but the girls in the other dorm rooms kept popping their heads out of their own dorms--- the middle of the night, hair messy, eyes unfocused, and that's how they wanted it to stay until Margery got there. Margery did not like things to be messed with and she did not like hysteria, so there might be some harsh words spoken, especially to whomever it was who was keening from behind one of the closed doors.

The room itself was unremarkable if one had college age daughters, which Joe did and Doug did not. Posters on the walls, a bulletin board with postcards and photos, a calendar with days crossed off in red pen, now that might mean something, that's something that Margery would surely not miss, she rarely missed anything, though it had been some time since she'd been on a homicide.  Doug and Joe didn't speak about it but they both hoped she had calmed down. When Margery was not herself, no one was safe.

They heard her voice before they saw her.

Writing genre murder mystery cop stuff I know nothing about is more difficult than I thought it would be.

That is all for now.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bad Beach Dates and Bikinis

Missed the first fifteen minutes and can't really pay attention because of my class which is happening concurrently. That short-haired girl hates the outdoors--Kelsey. So what if she hates being outdoors? She even admitted that she is tired from trying to smile all the time and it's making her face hurt. I wouldn't want to be there either.  One girl is dressed as an American flag (she's also a virgin. A super patriotic virgin). All of the girls appear to be wearing tiny life buoys/microphones.

The girls are being interviewed by some blond women who may or may not be related to Chris. The one other blond girls says that she wants Chris to be like her grandpa. That quote is taken out of context, but still is weirdly put.

Other stuff happens and there are two virgins present, and one of them is the girl with the super fake long Bambi eyelashes who admits that she has never had a boyfriend. She sneaks into his tent to tell him that she's virgin and only does anal (I'm SORRY).  Except she doesn't actually use those words. She explains later that she snuck into his tent to make out wiht him to prove that she's wife material, not just someone who wants to hook up. Uh...

I keep thinking how rank his tent must smell--for some reason, he just strikes me as someone who has a lot of terrible gas. And yet Ashley I. pretends like it smells normal.  She says that he can probe into that area later if he wants to. Hubba-hubba. Who cares if she's a virgin or not? Who cares?

Jade gets to dress up like Cinderella as put together by a large woman with pink hair. She wears glass slippers that she gets to take home!!!  She's in a ballroom with Chris and they both are sweating like crazy  (The dark haired virgin is left back at the house, wearing her own princess dress and eating corn on the cob). Cue a symphony of violinists, candles, and a platform. I think I would quit the show right then if they made me dance on a dias in front of a bunch of talented musicians. I wish they would fall off.  OMG, There is super product placement in this--a huge screen TV plays the ball scene from the Cinderella movie. Worst moment in Bachelor history. Worst. So bad. He dips her and kisses her, smooshing his sweaty face onto hers.  Fairy tale, fairy tale, fairy tale, fairy tale. That's what they keep saying. The clock strikes midnight and she has to go. Please do not leave a shoe. Please, God, I will have to quit watching the show if she leaves a shoe. This is just fucking awful. A symbolic shoe is left behind. "Tonight was magical, and hopefully, Jade's and I's fairy tale becomes a reality," says Chris, staring down the stairs at her until the director yells, Cut! Come on, they can't do any better than that?

Oh, wait, I take that back. In this next scene, the women are made to wear identical wedding dresses and go through an obstacle course to get a rose. Who conceptualizes these challenges? Why don't they ask them to do things that you would really help you decide if this person you might want to continue dating, like have them take some kind of ethics test or put them on the show What Would You Do and see if they're racist or homophobic? Or make them take a test for STDs or ask for their high school transcripts. Or give them 48 hours to solve a murder investigation. At the very least, make the challenges more imaginative.

The winner, Jillian, gets to go out to dinner with Chris. He asks her what she wants to do in five years and she says she doesn't know and then launches into a long monologue about her athletic prowess and how she started competing as a wrestler. Jillian swears on the date and asks Chris if he would rather sleep with a homeless woman or abstain from sex for five years? It doesn't go over very well, but she thinks she's doing swimmingly. I wonder, do the interviewees interrupt the date to ask them how they think it's going? Or is this totally fake? He will not give her the rose because she's a little too masculine for him--or not feminine enough. She may ask him to arm wrestle. Instead, she starts crying. Just like a girl! I think she was being herself, but now she's pretending like she wasn't. It's fine if herself is athletic and energetic, right? She has to go home.

Cocktail party. The virgin is still wearing her princess dress and is bound and determined to tell Chris that she is a virgin. He is surprised and he says that it's great and she tells him not to think it's a big deal even though she has made a super huge deal about it. She has a potty mouth.  The instant she tells him, she decides she shouldn't have and has to be comforted by Mackenzie, the 21 year old.

I missed some big confrontation that the pretty sparkly girl (Britt) had with him, I think it was
something about him making out with everyone. He pretended to take it well and then stormed off and made an announcement about how they can all leave if they aren't their for the right reasons or if they are virgins.

Final rose ceremony.

First rose: Whitney. She looks like some kind of movie actress.
Second rose: Carly,
Third: Pam. All blonds so far.
Fourth: Samantha, brown hair.
Fifth: Mackenzie wearing a shirt with a belt.
Sixth: Kelsey, only girl brave enough to wear short hair.
7th: Becca: blond, cute, Barbie teeth.
8th: The virgin. That was a pity rose.
Final rose: goes to Brit, even though she told him some hard truths that I missed.

Going home: Crazy Ashley, some dark haired girl dressed in red and black like a pirate, this blond easethetican, whatever that is. She lost her father and doesn't know how to spell her name (Juelia). He takes a moment to tell her that she should go home to her daughter and not waster her time with him because he is totally not interested.  

Dan just said, I want to see Chris again in a pair of shorts. He thinks he has a funny build. That's the reason he gave me anyway.

No last words from Ashley?

Next week: parachutes, baby talk, orgasms, someone dressed like an ice skater, people starting to hate Kelsey, Kelsey collapsing near a water fountain and needing an epi pen while the other girls laugh from behind their hands.

OH! Ashley. I think she is a paid actress. Here is what she says, word for word: "I feel nothing. I'm actually not sad at all. I have no feelings. Like, honestly, I'm not worried about me at all." She hoots like an owl. "All I have to say to you is...Nothing." Perfection.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dreams of high school

I had a dream last night that I was going back to high school, I think as some kind of 21 Jump Street undercover cop posing as a high school student. This is because I still see myself as appearing to be 16 years old, and am continually shocked when a reflective surface or photograph proves otherwise. Or when I see high school friends on Facebook and think, Wow, she looks old! And then I realize that she and I are the same age and she would likely say the same about me. In this dream, I was attending high school in Seattle and had some confidence that I wouldn't be intimidated because, in my dream, I had previously been a teenager in a major city (the city itself wasn't specified).  I spent the first part of my morning (in the dream) getting my ID picture taken over and over again as I strove for an authentic laugh/smile. When all of the photos came back (the guy took like 50 of them), every single one showed my crooked front tooth in high relief, blinding white, it was all you could see. I was wearing a red shirt and a denim skirt--not the best outfit, and I had trouble finding my class schedule. All in all, it was one of those dreams where you wake up and go, Thank God that was a imaginative manifestation of my insecurities rolled up into one long nightmare.

Where did this dream come from and why so many specific details? Maybe it's because Luke told us at dinner about how in gym class yesterday, the gym teacher volleyed a ball over the net, and it hit him on the head, causing him to fall over on his elbow with a loud crack. He said the sound of his elbow hitting the gym floor was super loud, and it was really embarrassing because everyone heard it and there were a lot of kids in his class. No one laughed though.

I had forgotten that part of school--how you are always in groups of some kind (in the cafeteria, during class, at band practice) and so the odds are higher that you may face public humiliation more readily than you do as an adult.  And that's all also happening at a time when you're becoming more and more self-conscious and less and less in control of your body. I remember in seventh grade, I was running to geography class, wearing a Laura Ingalls type dress my mom made with sneakers (why? It's an unanswerable question), to one of those classes that were held in pods. If you don't know about them, pods are like these mini-trailer classrooms they use when the buildings are under construction. It had rained the night before and as I flew toward the door, I tripped on a shoelace and fell on my knees in the mud. In front of Steve Bencuscky, who was walking calmly up the back stairs. Steve Bencusky with the broad swimmer's shoulders, blond surfer boy hair and year-round tan. He saw me fall, but he said nothing. He just went inside and I scrambled to stand up before anyone else witnessed it. That's one of my only clear memories of seventh grade.

Monday, January 19, 2015

And God said, Let there be hot tubs and wedding crashers

And so there were.

God, in this case, is ABC and Jesus is Chris. Or Chris is Jesus. At least to all of these women, he appears to be. I hope this week, I am able to save this post so that you can get the minute by minute nonsense, even though I am again only half paying attention due to also taking an online writing class for the first hour. Jimmy Kimmel will be in this episode and the only reason I only kind of like him is because he dated Sarah Silverman.

Show starts with ominous music for no reason that I can discern except that JK is there to wake up a gaped mouth Chris, who sleeps on his side with his hand under his head like a little baby. I am again struck by the fact that he has a large body, possibly one which will run to fat if he eats too much corn.

Maybe JK is on the show to provide some actual humor which is largely non-existent most of the time, except for the 30 seconds of bloopers they sometimes show at the very end. I wonder how many of these women have no clue who JK is?

Kaitlin gets the first one on one date card. She's adorbs. She asks Chris if they are doing something with Jimmy. She wears a cut off half shirt and a flannel shirt. I think they are outside of a Target and doing JK's shopping for him. Kaitlin is tiny. Is that a sports bra? Who dresses these girls? You look away for one second and then the next thing you see is Kaitlin and Chris in a giant blue hamster ball being pushed by Mexican children. They kiss, still encased in blue plastic, foreshadowing for the condoms that will be used in this making of this show. They kiss again and her lipstick gets all over his mouth. A somewhat realistic moment. I feel like she's the kind of girl who might just fart really loud in  the middle of the conversation just to be funny.

JK shows up--have they finally realized that Host Chris (HC) is a super bore and has no personality to speak of. He asks Kaitlin is she likes beef and no one expands on that question. JK asks her if she has dated farmers before, and I think she's lying. They're grilling out. They must be editing out at least 85% of what JK is actually saying, especially when he mentions lubrication. She has a tattoo on her elbow. I'm dying to know what it is and hope it's not a cartoon character. She won't let him French kiss her--she does these small little guppy kisses. Luckily, she has brought her bikini, so that they can make out in the hot tub with JK looking on. More humor!

I am not paying much attention to the group date which lamely involves them doing supposedly farm-like things like shucking corn, cracking eggs and milking goats, showing their asses (not as in donkeys). One of the blondes wins. I guess that means she gets to ride a pony with him one-on-one. Mackenzie asks him why he's kissing everyone when they kissed and she is way too young to be on this show. She's probably not even out of college yet. The girls like to wear sparkles on their faces. They're all like fairy princesses.


Whitney gets the next one-on-one date. But there is one more rose that must be given out on this date. They all also have perfect dental work. PERFECT! He give the rose to...Becca, even though they haven't kissed and she's wearing a man's white shirt as a dress.

Whitney has a baby voice and she wears pink and he wears pink and she is super perky. He says what he wants in a woman and she then tells him that's exactly what she's like. She meets all these people in airports and becomes Facebook friends with them. She says that she wants to crash the wedding because YOLO. She would never never never normally do this. It's just to make good television. He high fives her. I am not feeling that he is really feeling her. Here's the basic problem with this idea--they can't actually crash the wedding without the cameras capturing them. He introduces her as his fiancé. He says he likes her because she can milk cow and hold conversations with random people. That does a wife make. And she's a good liar, I guess that's an attractive quality as well. Could it be that he really likes her? Even though she just broke someone's nose trying to catch the bouquet? They kiss on the dance floor.



The women are now being forced to attend a pool party and this girl decides now is the time to put on her sparkly headband and tell him about the suicide of her husband. One day, her whole life was literally turned upside down. So what happened was she had a baby and he couldn't deal with it. He came home and told her that he wrote a suicide note at work (meanwhile, we can still kind of hear the women frolicking in the pool in the background). He brought out a gun and she was really scared. She left, talked to him later that night, and then the next day, he killed himself. Is she using this story to get closer to Chris so he can't kick her off until the third to last episode? I'm sorry to be that cynical, but it does seem a little weird, as she is also wearing false eyelashes and things mean the world to her.

It's getting down to the wire at the pool party with all of the women vying for his attention, including the make up artist, Jade, who begs him to see his place. He takes her into it, while the rest of the girls eat hummus and chips. Jillian thinks she's being sneaky and smart by getting into his private hot tub. Little does she know that he will never show up because instead, he's going to go make out on the bed with this adorable girl and her dimples and high heels. Is this every man's fantasy or what? All of these women dying to get into bed with him. Cue the poon music. Cue the bubbles as Jillian waits alone in the Jacuzzi, probably getting a yeast infection.



The other girls eavesdrop from the foliage and he starts kissing Jillian or she starts kissing him or something. Mackenzie joins them wearing a sundress, as do two other women who are "shy." Can you be shy and also decide to go on a national reality TV show? Jillian possessively keeps her hand on his leg. The girl with the other headband runs away and drops her glass, mad that the other girls are being competitive.

Ashley I. with her black bikini and her belly ring. She's laughing and crying at the same time. I don't think that's attractive to rub her snot nose on his shoulder. She wants to kiss him and she pulls him toward her and they both tumble off the balcony. She says she feels so much better for making out with him by force even though she had cotton mouth.

Only ten minutes left for the final rose ceremony, which should really only take two minutes, but with dramatic pauses, it's usually a good half hour long. 



Oh, I get it. JK on this show is an extended commercial for his own show. Brilliant. He says, Whatever you do, don't be yourself. Hardee-har-har.

Some of these women had no time with Chris at all and so will likely be going home, and I hope one of them is the girl with the eyelashes (Ashley I) who says that she feels like a "nine in confidence level."

First rose goes to Jade who made out with him in his bed.

Second rose goes to Samantha.

Then Julie. I don't recognize either one of these two.

Mackenzie is staying. What?

Fifth rose to the cute short haired girl, then Brittany, then Megan who looks awkward in this black dress and high heels. Carly, who is she? What about the woman whose husband killed herself. Ashley S., the weirdo who didn't do anything this week. Nikki, who? Nikki and Ashley are identical twins. Jillian, from the hot tub. One rose left. Black girl will be going home, he's kept her on for the requisite two weeks so as not to look like a total racist. Ashley I. accepts the rose and I guess the suicide's wife did get a rose?

Tears, tears, and tears and why me's to follow. Next week, someone becomes addicted to heroin and another girl chips a tooth on a helicopter and five of them are decapitated in a car wreck. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Thoroughly Modern Mary

Last week, if you will recall, we learned that Mary has taken a room at a very fancy hotel in order to shag with her would be lover. We open up with the two of them in bed together, she wearing a very lovely white slip of a nightgown that I envy, he watching her in a way that could be stalker-ish. Will he turn out to be a cad? He says, "Have you ever considered breast implants, my darling?" Dan said that.

Cut to a scene with Edie and the Crawley's having breakfast in front of a giant painting. Next, Barrows interrupts Mr. Carson to use the telly-phone to place an ad-vert-is-ment (pronounced exactly like that).

Mary is giving no clue as to whether or not she enjoyed her time with Todd or Tad or Tony (can't recall his name). Did he make her nether regions go a-quiver? We have no clue. He kisses her politely on the street outside of the hotel by their good bye is espied by a fat man I don't recognize

The Irish interloped is having tea with the plain schoolteacher. That dead sister is rolling in her grave. Can this woman ever be seen without a hat on and a horrid one at that?

Too many scenes to keep track of. Carson is talking to a cop and that's probably important. Back to Mrs. Simpering Crawley and the farm in the parlor. Someone wants to buy and build on Pip's Corner. Mr. Crawley shakes his newspaper, not approvingly. Edie is sad at all the little toddlers toddling around because her own little bastard child is being raised by a bunch of poor people.

The butler reveals that he saw Lady Mary coming out of the hotel with Lord Gilliam in Liverpool. Maggie Smith pretends she already knew this fact, because she too is a fairly modern person and will not blame Mary for trying out the merchandise prior to purchase.

Back in the parlor where everyone wears silk dresses and tuxedos just to hang out. Downstairs, the staff dresses all in black and are served Shepherd Pie's. Someone says "Bring in the spotted dick," and no one laughs, because it's a dish of the olden days or current days of Great Britain. I do not know because I have only been to Manchester for like two nights.

Lady Mary asks Anna the chambermaid to hide her contraception for her, which sets her up to be caught with it by her murderous husband. What is it? Is it a lambskin condom that's recyclable? A cervical cap?
Mr. Bates is on the hook for the murder of the rapist. I haven't been listening closely and so I'm not sure what the hell is going on with this subplot. Maggie and Mary talk about Mary's indiscretion. Maggie says that she must have been seduced and Mary shoots back that she wasn't and she went on her own volition. Maggie finds it hard to believe because the daughter of an earl does not slut around.The police want to know every move Mr. Bates made on the day that rapist was murdered, including if he really posted a letter or not.

Is this guy coming on to Lady Crawley? Or is he her new gay best friend? It's hard to tell with British guys sometimes, they are so dapper.

That's enough for now...Time for cocoa.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday morning angst

Fuck the internet connection at Small World--it doesn't work for me and the user name and password printed on the flimsy receipt is smudged and difficult to read, very similar to the password that Verizon provides where every other symbol could be a small letter, a cap letter, or a number. I wonder if some genius at Verizon (or at SW) might one day say, Hey, people seem to want to be able to use the internet connection to log on. Why not make that easier?

I'm also annoyed because I choose the wrong line to wait in--it was a difficult decision. Two older ladies, both with their wallets all ready, but the one I was standing behind said something like, For my first order, I'd like a small decaf Americano with whipped mocha chai on top. I gambled and moved to the next line, and was dismayed to find that this lady was on a dogged search for quarters in her seemingly bottomless handbag.

Thirdly, and lastly (for now), there's a kid in here who is talking to no one I can see. I believe he is Skypeing. I believe he should not be. As when people in public places engage in long conversations on their mobiles, I think it's rude or weird or socially out of place to be video chatting with someone in public. I'm judging him because a lot because I feel like he purposefully set up the scene with his floppy blond hair just so, and his unshaven face in the Bachelor-Chris style and then chose this coffee shop as the setting for his online encounter. These are the assumptions I make about strangers when I'm in a cranky mood.

 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writing Class, Week 2

Barely paid attention to my online writing class on Monday night because The Bachelor was on at the same time and because I did not have a copy of the reading assignment with me. One suggestion the teacher had that seemed wise is to use our daily journal not just to write what happened in this diary-ish way, but to write in scene instead, to use it to hone our descriptive muscles and scene development. This week, the one-page writing assignment is to describe the action of a character from a third person perspective, the character going about her day engaged in a specific activity. My mind goes blank. I think of things like describing the woman at the Widow McCray's Bed and Breakfast, because there's a conflict there between her job (being a hostess) and her personality (not seeming to like people). I guess for today, I could just start with that. And try not to check my Facebook in the meantime.
The b& b experience comes to mind because it is so rich with contradictions and conflict. The unhappy hostess, the other host who talked too much and who likely told everyone the same story each week, how the b&b came about, how hard it was to pay the taxes, in hopes of what? The somewhat cramped accommodations, how the woman announced that our room was the only one without a TV, how I asked for water and she seemed offended and said I could get it out of the tap as it was just as good as bottled water, the cluttering of un-charming antiques, that one could easily pick up at the flea market, including a wooden rocking horse and an old rocking chair with a needlepoint cushion.