Word Cookie

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Me 'n' J.C.*

I think my life has finally settled down a bit. I know because my excuse for not blogging has deflated from busy into lazy, and also I suddenly had room to start thinking about it. And here we are.

Mainly I've been busy with my big move to the big city. I'm so content in my new place I can barely stand it. I don't know if any of you have ever had the happy coincidence of timing a physical relocation with a big shift in your mindset--new goals, new perspectives, etc--but it is fantastic. Like you've channel surfed in sync with the timeslots of fate. Or something along those overblown lines. Caught a sweet wave of the master plan. Harmonized with the big guy barbershop quartet. (Okay, no more.)

Really, I feel how I used to as a kid when I'd hear the ice cream truck jingling in my neighborhood--not too far away, not too close, just right to make pathetic, deserving eyes at the babysitter, grab some change, and run outside in time to see it turning down my street. Yeah, buddy.

Having a new place that I love, and completely blindly lucked into, makes me wonder about the above over-analogized larger plan. Yes, it's just an apartment...something will probably start leaking (spiders) soon, and the woman across the courtyard from me has this amazing, cavernous smoker's cough which bounces around the courtyard and into my bedroom window as though in a giant echo chamber. Don't smoke, kids!

But (oh no there's no way around this pun, must censor) it's as though I have a new l---- on life! It's great and surprising how a change in routine can open up new possibilities in your head. For example, I don't have a dishwasher anymore, so I'm back to elbow grease and the limits of how clean I really, really need my dishes.

Like any doomed novelty, right now I truly appreciate the hidden joy in doing the dishes. For one, it gives me the excuse to sing the excellent Pulp song, Dishes, and who doesn't love an excuse to whip out the ol' Jarvis Cocker impression? (see title) But it is mainly a nice pause; where my purpose is simple and finite, and the chore steadily dissolves into white noise, water, and down the drain to great satisfaction. This task is one where a person can only perform so well: clean is clean. There's really no point in overachieving as a dishwasher. And as I'm not so much a chronic overachiever, but a chronically expectant of overachievement, such simplicity relaxes me.

Then I can actually start to ponder my larger purpose in life in some kind of a rational state, as opposed to, say, in front of my computer, staring at endless postings for ridiculously bad or ridiculously out of my reach jobs, intimidating publications with looming submission deadlines, and one fully staffed masthead after another. (Dammit!)

But, really how much control do any of us have over our master plan beyond all the furious scheming and expecting? I'm a big fan of biographies: The Carter Family, Jimmy Stewart, J.D. Salinger, Mary Pickford—I’ve devoured them all. What biographies of successful people have managed to do is simultaneously convince me that success is somehow both arbitrary and inevitable if you work hard enough. Every biography also features the third act twist: She had it all, but then it all came crashing down...

For instance, A.P. Carter managed not only to land the girl of his dreams, (who he met because he heard her singing through an open window and was entranced—much like some medieval knight on a quest, but set in Appalachia) but he convinced her to join his band, making him a musical legend. Then, of course, came the long hours, the infidelity, the divorce, and the fizzling out of his career. After fighting in WWII, Jimmy Stewart wrestled with serious doubt as to whether acting was a suitable profession for a person. Reading stories of the mortals who have managed to achieve their dreams, and then following along as it all turns on them or falls apart or just fades into old age and old times really just puts Success into perspective: the view that it’s really only one part of what we can and should be doing with ourselves.

So, I've resigned to just force myself to enjoy the moments as they are, as they come. Like those big, sugary, and fast-melting pink bubblegum ice cream bars I would buy as a kid: I knew that in a few seconds the ice cream would no longer resemble the face of Mickey Mouse...the ears would be eaten down to little nubs, the M&M eyes would melt and droop down the face like a Dali painting, and the whole beautiful mess would eventually end up in my stomach and manifested through cartwheels and the manic desire to dress the dog up in people clothes (hilarious!)...

Meeting the ice cream man—managing to be in a place in my house where I could hear the jingle, convincing the adult to let me go, scrounging up enough change, and rushing out the door fast enough—wasn’t ever the object of my summers, just a nice occasional treat. Sometimes my brother and I would sit on our lawn for what seemed like an eternity, hearing the jingle circle around our street over and over until finally it just disappeared, and we had to go back inside. Sometimes we would determine to be proactive, and try and track down the truck through the neighborhood—stalking up and down the streets with the jingle always leading us in circles until we gave up. We could always keep our change in a easy-to-access spot, get permission in advance, and plan ahead for what we would buy, but the truth was that it was never up to us whether he came or not, whether we caught him or not, or whether he would even have what we wanted.

As I slide into my 23rd birthday, my first year out of college, my new apartment, and my first real job, I’m going to try and remember that huge, spine-tingling, face-melting, smile-widening, high-fiving moments of success and serendipity are so great because they are so rare, so surprising, and so completely out of our control.

*a note on the images: I felt that given the mentioning of ice cream trucks, dishes, and pure, uncomplicated delights, ice cream made natural illustrations. Plus, photos of ice cream are completely beautiful! Look at these! Check out that apricot dish--tiger lilies and everything! (That ice cream wants to make sweet love to you!) It reminds me of a Texan institution, Braum's, and the giant lavish photos of ice cream they would hang around the store. At that size and production budget, the personalities of the different flavors really came out. Strawberry is clearly a bitch--sitting all pink and perfect in a crystal dish with a doily. Stuck up, but she just knows what she's got. Cookies 'n' Cream keeps it real--big, chucky scoops in a plain blue bowl on a wood table. Probably a great sense of humor--compensatory. But, oh pistachio, you lusty trollop--with your smart accessories to complement your mysterious nature: clear white dish, wedge of cookie placed at a 45 degree angle like a kicky little hat, and sprig of some exotic leafy plant lying on the table. You get me. Too bad you taste like feet.

**Thanks for sticking through this meanderingly coherent, jaunty post.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Very Special Centennial Cuteness: Part III

As you may remember, Lou Lou is pretty obsessed with Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report. She really can't shut up about it--"Did you see last night's episode?" "It was so unbelievably clever; absolutely titillating!" "Don't you think royal blue ties really look the best on S.C.? OMG, I totally do! OMG!" Ugh, it gets so old, believe me.

Anyway, she'd like to dedicate Photo #97 to a very special TV show:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Check it!

Dear Reader,

Can't get enough of Word Cookie? Looking for something else to read while you're supposed to be working? You're in luck!

I'll be posting my thoughts on Bay Area zines, comics, and general culture as part of KQED's Arts & Culture website. The current post is about Ker-Bloom, a beautiful little letterpress zine out of the East Bay. Check out my new venture!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Centennial Cuteness pt. II

Clearly, my idea to post a cat picture everyday was a little ambitious/insane. My bad.

Still, I do need to break that 100 mark, and today I was again inspired to reach for the moon. They say that way, if I fall short, I'll still be amongst the stars. Number 96:

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I saw an irksome headline this week: MTV Turns 25!

The combined sins of TRL, Laguna Beach, and The Real World: Miami (shudder) aside, my beef isn't really with MTV, itself. It's just that I am nearly 25, too. Off by a couple years, true, but close enough, and we are aligned in time of year.

So what does this mean? Forever the progress of MTV will parallel the progress of my own life. Dammit! When I'm pushing forty, I'll have to suffer not only through corns and my own looming irrelevance to humanity, but a constant rotation of self-congratulatory retrospectives about how Groundbreaking those intrepid VJ's were, and don't we miss Kennedy and Kurt Loder, and remember how My Super Sweet Sixteen brokered peace in the Middle East--all hosted by scantily-clad, aging pop flotsam (Rivers Cuomo: Nowhere to go but down + looks great in a tank top).


So, in protest, here's a list of alternate institutions that I so deeply wish were holding hands with my existence on this planet instead of a crappy channel with nothing to say.

* The Dr. Von Klaufenberger's Institute for Cat Butlers

* Lil' Miss Misanthrope Summer Camp

* MoonIt!--Free candy and trips to the lunar surface for all mankind


* Blue, Gray, and Brave: The Society for Disabled Civil War Re-enactors

* Sweet Miss Honeysuckle's Home for Formerly-Homicidal Cat Butlers

* Sir Books-a-Lot and the Smarties: eclectic pop maestros

* Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Movie on Record (oh wait, that actually exists. and won a Grammy in 1983. naturally.)

(The last straw.)

* The Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy Erotic Fan Fiction Ring

* The Family Matters Erotic Fan Fiction Ring

* The John Lithgow Erotic Fan Fiction Ring

* The Alvin and the Chipmunks Erotic Fan Fiction Ring

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Centennial Cuteness

Yes, murky accuracy with my word choice in the title of this entry, but I'll side with snappy alliteration any day! (I've spent this morning all-too-absorbed in the excellent Style Check usage guide. So take note that all my grammar errors in this post are at least cushioned by an air of well-meaning superiority!)

Anyway, I was doing some computer filing last night, and decided to create a seperate file for each family pet. This led to my discovery that I have a grand total of 94 pictures of my cat Lou Lou. 94? That's so very close to 100!

Now I am on a mission to post a new Lou photo every day for the next 6 days. It's a bold venture, I know, and really frightening how quickly my blog disintegrated into yet another platform for talking about the cat. But I'm going to try and post a Lou photo along with another worldly photo that somehow mirrors or complements it. Kind of like Cindy Sherman, only bastardized. Here goes: