AKA: A Bunch of Shit You Probably Don’t Even Want to Know!
So this is one of those internet questionnaires that probably went around in emails and then into the blog and online journal spheres until it became a narcissistic series of THIRTY POSTS that are supposed to reveal your ~true self~ to the internet. And since I am nothing if not a COMPLETE NARCISSIST, I’m doing it.
Day 1: Introduce Yourself
My name is Ash. I’m 25. I’m getting ready for my second and last year of grad school where I am trying to get an MFA in writing (fiction) and writing a book and being a reader for a pretty okay group of other writers.
These are the three most recent pictures taken of me, least to most recent:
The top and bottom were taken by my gf because she is obsessed with my hair and also putting things into my bun, like pens and flowers. The middle one is a self-portrait! Told you I was a narcissist.
I like all of the media things that I talk about: books, movies, tv shows, the internet, music, and comic books/graphic novels. I also like taking pictures of shit, but I think all of the conceptual/technical photography stuff is really, really boring. If I like a picture, I like a picture. Fuck your rule of thirds.
I’ve been writing since I was little and I spent all of third grade carrying around those black and white composition books where I wrote stories about the kids in my class then told them that I wrote stories about them, but wouldn’t show them the stories unless they did things for me and then always, 100% of the time, refused to show them anyway.
I was, and am, kind of a dick.
I am not a great or a dedicated writer. I have never been a devoted or hardworking person. Ever. I write because I like it and it comes easily and my basic number one goal in life is to never, ever have to work hard at anything.
My first novel is a young adult story and I love it even when it’s a huge fucking cunt that I want to punch in the face over and over again. I am pretty certain that young adult is really where I belong as a writer (and a reader!) so I am already looking at other MFA programs that specialize in YA/children’s lit to go to after I finish this program, since I am obviously not at all ready to try and be part of the real world.
Also, I have no marketable or useful skills to speak of. I have only ever taught and written for money. I am useless at everything else except for working at a video store, which I was great at! But is now totally obsolete as a career choice. God damn it.
I am really fat and loud and usually smart and funny. I am not into outdoor activities at all unless it’s going to Disneyland or walking from my car into a place of business. I am into fat acceptance and body positivity and feminism and equalism and gay rights and human rights and the general ability for awesomeness that I believe the human race probably does possess deep down inside somewhere under all the evil and body odor.
I’m an adamant atheist and I think religion is basically stupid. I don’t understand people who aren’t pro-choice or pro-gay marriage. Basically, I was born and raised in California.
I have absolute faith that there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe. I will absolutely punch you in the mouth if you somehow infer that believing in the statistical probability of aliens is comparable to believing in ghosts/werewolves/vampires/Jesus.
I live with my parents (fail!twenties, represent!) and my girlfriend and four dogs and two cats and we are all pretty awesome. I am close to my parents and my older (by nine years) sister. My family is really weird and one of my neighbor friends once said to me, “You guys are, like, really loud.” and she was totally 100% right. I don’t think she meant it as a compliment like we took it though.
I can be really rude and brash and obnoxious and because of these awesome personality defects, I have a really hard time making friends. The few I have are basically stuck with me whether they like it or not. I never know if the people around me actually like/tolerate me because I have a really hard time reading people and body language. I am also sort of bossy and demanding and I have unreachably high standards when it comes to public decorum. I AM A GREAT PERSON TO BE AROUND. CAN’T YOU TELL?! WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE LOVE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!
Basically, I have spent my entire life being incapable of keeping my mouth shut, completely unable to stop the torrential outpouring of verbal diarrhea that makes up my personality.
I am fucking awesome.
More narcissism here.
So, earlier this summer, I made a summer wishlist post with only one item on it — a god damn pool I NEVER GOT.
And it’s the second to last day of August now and the first draft of my book isn’t finished yet (I’m at 177 pages though, YEAH THAT IS RIGHT.) even though I set September 1st as my ABSOLUTE CONCRETE FINAL DEADLINE and I DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL but there’s still only one more thing on my summer wishlist:
Yeah, part two of my summer wishlist is for it to FUCKING BE OVER ALREADY. I don’t want to go back to school or have to leave the house for any reason other than Disneyland or hangs with the BFFs, but I am ready for my financial aid disbursement (I bought one gallon of gas today. ONE GALLON. Because that was LITERALLY all that I could afford. But at least I got that damn gallon.) and cooler weather and rain and for some other shit too, like:
STRAIGHT UP READY FOR SOME HALLOWEEN SHIT RIGHT NOW. Including:
How fucking awful are these? I made a sexy/trashy/stereotypical Native American costume for the GayBFF last year that was better than that thing!
Also ready for these:
And always ready for some of these:
Fuck yeah, FALL CLOTHES! TACKY SWEATERZ 4 LYFE.
Anyway, yeah, ready for some cooler weather! And some changing leaves and stuff. I always envision fall like some glorious orange, yellow, and red spectacle of color and breezes! Like Disney’s Pocahontas painting with all the colors of the wind and shit except with grandma cardigans and jeans and flip flops because let’s get real, I live in southern California and I am not putting on real shoes unless it is absolutely necessary. Except for the part where I LIVE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, so the chasm between dream and reality is pretty monstrous.
And also fall is starting RIGHT NOW. My bank parking lot was knee-high with leaves this weekend because the trees were like, “FUCK I AM TIRED OF HOLDING THIS SHIT UP. IS SUMMER EVER GOING TO END?!” and then got pissed and took a massive dump everywhere. Except it was a million degrees all last week, so it’s not red cable knit sweaters and running and high-kicking through the leaves and giggling, it’s stomping through sticky leaves basically barefoot in shorts and tank tops with sweat squirting out of your armpits like ejaculatory geysers. Fuck you, California, fuck you.
In spite of (or because of, it’s a razor-thin line) all of that, I am fucking ready for fall already. But it won’t come. We still have at least a month and a half of summer left, if not two full months. A month of which will involve my commute further east where it will be twenty to thirty degrees hotter than where I live! (MY LIFE IS GREAT! I AM SO EXCITED FOR SCHOOL TO START! CAN’T YOU TELL? AREN’T YOU SO JEALOUS?!) Which means that I will be going to class on 100 degree days and waiting for my eventual death from heatstroke. In October.
Anyway, all of that is really just to say, I fucking hate candy corn. Fuck that shit. If you like candy corn, our friendship is over. Get out. And take your fucking candy corn with you. Because it’s bullshit.
I have most of my brilliant ideas/thoughts/words/sentences in the two most inconvenient places for someone who has a memory terrible enough that if she has three thoughts in her head she has to write them down IMMEDIATELY because the instant a fourth one pops into existence one of those three turds of brilliance will be GONE FOREVER: the car and the shower.
Like, I am a good driver and all, but I am not good enough to just knock off some detailed notes in the middle of the 210 freeway while I am driving 85 miles an hour on my way to my afternoon class that I almost overslept. (It’s an evening class, if I’m honest, but I’m not, so…) Generally, I unlock my phone, fumble around blindly trying to remember which god damn page (folder now, THANKS STEVE JOBS!) I put the voice recorder on/in (OH I NEVER USE THAT, LET’S HIDE IT) while trying not to crash the car AND keep track of whatever idea prompted the suicide recording mission in the first place. IT NEVER GOES WELL.
Having a brilliant idea in the shower is like suddenly having to shit while you’re in there. You either admit defeat and get out, sit down on the toilet soaking wet and get toilet paper stuck all over your damp ass (writing equivalent: finding a notebook and pen while running naked through the house, then dripping all over it) or you finish the shower and shit when you’re done, basically defeating the entire purpose of the fucking shower (writing: lose the thought somewhere between getting shampoo in your eyes and accidentally douching with Dial). There is no in between, but 90% of the time I opt for the naked sprint. The other 10% of the time I just convince myself that the idea was fucking stupid anyway and should immediately be forgotten.
I also get excessively emotional in these two places way more often than should be even remotely possible. Like, sometimes I’m just showering and it’s a pleasant enough experience and I am suddenly like, “DAMN, no one is ever going to hire me for even a menial position after I’ve invested all this money and time into getting my MFA. GOD DAMN I FUCKED UP.” and then I start crying a lot and it’s gross and basically looks like one of those awful post-regrettable-sexual-experience scenes in bad movies. Not cute.
ACTUAL REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE.
And then in the car it’s always because I am all wrapped up in some bullshit song like “The Ice Is Getting Thinner” by Death Cab for Cutie (BULLSHIT SONG) or like, “Twilight” or “Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith which is so cliché it’s EMBARRASSING.
But then one time I was twenty years old and driving home from college for the weekend and I was REALLY INTO LED ZEPPELIN at the time and I was jamming and then “Stairway to Heaven” came on and look, okay, this is my mom’s FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME since she was like… sixteen or some shit and I grew up hearing it ALL THE TIME and I know that someday when my mom dies she wants this god damn song played at her FUNERAL she loves it that much, but I had this moment where it was like I heard it for the first time and I started SOBBING UNCONTROLLABLY and there was snot and it was so bad I had to pull to the side of the freeway and have a panic attack.
I WAS THIS FUCKING MOVED OKAY.
And that’s some serious bullshit! No one should ever cry at Led Zeppelin unless Zeppelin IV was playing while you watched your entire family murdered. It’s just unacceptable.
So whatever, anyway, my car and my shower are basically my two most important creative outlets and I spend a lot of time thinking in those places and sometimes some brilliant shit comes from it like some of my favorite lines/moments from the in-progress first novel and the idea for the second novel which I am not even allowed to think about until the first one is done and a couple of pretty boss academic papers and a poem or two and a short story and a lot of really great music mixes… and whatever.
I think about a lot of stuff while I am occupied by menial, ordinary tasks. THAT’S HOW THE HUMAN BRAIN WORKS. And it’s probably one of the only normal ways in which my short-circuited mass of brain cells does work.
So anyway, I’ve been like this for my whole life, essentially, and at some point (I think in college, but this revelation has become so much a part of me that I can’t even remember when it happened. It was like realizing my body breathes without me telling to do it!) I was in the shower and I was washing my hair and I was like, “DANG, someone in the world’s favorite band is Eve 6! That shit is crazy!”
I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal and it’s not even really interesting and it was a fucking long road to sow to get to this point and it’s a weak point, I admit, but COME ON. There is someone out there in the world who is REALLY into Eve 6. There are probably multiple people who, when asked “What kind of music are you into?” actually say, “Well, I listen to everything, but my favorite band is Eve 6.”
I think it really boils down to like, the world is SO FUCKING BIG and there are SO MANY PEOPLE LIVING IN IT, that SOMEWHERE OUT THERE is a person whose FAVORITE BAND IN THAT GIANT WORLD is EVE 6.
How is your mind not blown right now?
Bob Dylan or the Beatles or the Ramones or Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber or Elliott Smith or Tom Waits or Black Eyed Peas or the Black Keys I can accept, but somehow EVE 6 is the one that blows my mind.
My in-depth research for this post (lurking this message board, basically) I even found the one thing that could further blow my mind.
AN EVE 6 TATTOO.
This dude HAD an Eve 6 tattoo, possibly one that he got when they were marginally popular on modern rock stations in 1998 and then he got a great big angry jester tattoo many years later in a place that would allow for a PERFECT COVER-UP of that Eve 6 tattoo, but instead, his love for Eve 6 is still so strong that he instead incorporated it into his new piece. That’s love, guys.
FOR REAL, in the world RIGHT NOW in 2010 there are people walking around in the world with Eve 6 ephemera indelibly inked into their human meat! There are enough people to keep an Eve 6 internet message board semi-active! THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO FREELY AND PROUDLY ADMIT THAT EVE 6 IS THEIR FAVORITE BAND IN THE WHOLE WORLD! STILL! NOW! IN 2010!
Anyway, I am NOT mocking these people. Korn was my favorite band for like eight years. And, had my parents let me have my way, I would have an ugly, faded reminder of that fandom somewhere on my back to mock me EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE.
Ugh, I am so glad I will only have been a teenager once.
So, seriously, not mocking, it is just mind-breaking to me in the way that the size of the universe and the infinity of space is.
Anyway, FINALLY, I would just like to point out:
“I would swallow my pride, I would choke on the rinds, but the lack thereof would leave me empty inside. Swallow my doubt, turn it inside out, find nothing but faith in nothing. Want to put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion. Rendezvous then I’m through with you.”
Lyrics to Eve 6’s “Inside Out”. The song which launched them to temporary stardom in the late spring of 1998. All typed straight from my memory. The same shitty memory that cannot keep track of birthdates, the locations of my keys or wallet, more than three thoughts at the same time, or whether or not I put on deodorant before I left the house.
They must’ve done something right.
My girlfriend and I are rapidly approaching our two year anniversary, but we’ve known each other for a year and change longer than that, which makes this a three-plus year commitment of pretty heavy seriousness.
I love my girlfriend insane amounts. And 90% of the time I am positive from head to toe that she and I are meant to spend the rest of our lives together, laughing and crying and meshing together like two people have never meshed before.
The other 10% is the agonizing low-points, most of which stem from the single largest issue in our entire relationship:
I’m out to my family and she’s not to hers.
[I would like to point out that in this dramatic moment of reveal, a fucking CRICKET attacked me in my BEDROOM, my safe harbor! I FUCKING HATE CRICKETS GOD DAMN IT.]
I’ve never really been “in” to my family. I never pretended I didn’t like girls (I never stopped and formally announced that I was interested in diddling skittles either, but I think that entire practice is bizarre and I can’t wait for a future where kids NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN because people will have stopped assuming heterosexuality as the NORM.) and when I started actually dating my girlfriend, I let it come out casually. It was never a big deal. My family is incredible and supportive and liberal and generally awesome, so, I was never particularly worried that it would be ill-received.
My girlfriend has every right to not tell her family about our relationship and she has every right to keep her sexuality to herself; I will never support the forceful or coercive outing of an individual. NOT EVER. And there are legitimate concerns when it comes to dropping that bomb on them. This isn’t about her reasoning for remaining closeted (Fuck, what an awful term. Isn’t there something less metaphorical? How has our language evolved so little?) or her relationship with her family, it’s about my relationships with her family, our relationship, my feelings, and the difficulties inherent in such a relationship imbalance.
I am friendly verging on friends with my girlfriend’s mom and brother, acquainted with her dad and step-mom, sister, and aunts and that’s flat-out where it ends. This week, her sister is home on R&R from military service and there have been and will be some family gatherings and a surprise trip to Hawaii for my girlfriend and her mother on her sister’s dime. If this were a “traditional” (Yet another bullshit term.) relationship, I’d have been undoubtedly included in familial celebration, if even just once, to welcome her sister home.
It hurts that I cannot have that, that it doesn’t even seem to occur to my girlfriend that these are the moments in our lives that are supposed to be inextricably tangled up and messy together.
My family loves my girlfriend. They always want her at gatherings and are constantly asking after her. They love her. My family are affectionate people! My life is tangled up in hers, but hers isn’t tangled up in mine.
This is something that I deal with everyday. I have to watch what I call her when she’s on the phone with her mom and god forbid we’re all in the same room together. Speaking, touching, the casual things that become habit when you’re in love with someone. LANDMINES EVERYWHERE.
I want to marry my girlfriend. I want to propose. I want to plan and talk and build our future together. But I can’t. I won’t propose until she’s out, until her family knows. I won’t even really consider that we might be together for longer than the next day, week, month because I feel like I’ve been isolated into a small, black box where I can’t make waves and I can’t matter.
No number of “I love you”s or “I want to be with you”s can make the feeling of being made invisible less painful.
So I don’t plan and I don’t hope and every piece of wedding inspiration gets locked away for some time in the future where maybe it won’t be like handling dynamite.
There is no future with someone who won’t let you truly exist.
Two of my best friends are also gay and both had (now only one does) long-term significant others. One of each pairing out, the other closeted. And it isn’t easy on any side or part or portion. It sucks from every angle. Fear is a cruel thing and it’s so heavily wrought at the hands of family, at the idea of losing the people who have loved you for so many years because of something you cannot control, someone you love.
It’s not shocking that this comes back to my writing, that this is one of the issues at the core of my novel, but it is surprising that I’m writing it not from my side, the one I’ve suffered the last two years, but from my girlfriend’s. I hope every single time I write those moments that I will suddenly understand something new about it, that my empathy will balloon, swallow me up in compassion.
But somehow, no matter how many pages of her side I churn out, it never gets any easier to bear my own.
Right now, I am curled up in the mental fetal position at my desk eating my feelings in the form of a large-ish bowl of Life cereal. NO JOKE. I am stressed as hell because I have a novel workshop tomorrow and I am giving myself SERIOUS ANXIETIES over nothing. This ain’t my first rodeo, so I don’t know what I am freaking out about, but WHATEVER, I am running with it and when Life hands you lemons, you should take that shit back to the store and buy the cinnamon kind instead.
Part of my freaking out is just the general anxiety of knowing that some people I trust/respect are reading my (very, very raw) work and are going to tell me what I did wrong (and right, but that falls on deaf ears pretty much) for TWO HOURS in the very near future. The workshop system is fucked up on a lot of levels, but writers are nothing if not gluttons for punishment, so we just. keep. doing. it. I expect this insanity twice/three times a quarter and I deal with it pretty well.
The second part of the anxiety is really frustration. I’m not writing my book linearly. I don’t mean that narratively (shit starts at point A and ends at point B), I mean actual craft-wise. I’ve never written a novel before (three NaNoWriMo attempts be damned.) and I’m not the kind of writer that can force readable writing out when the spark’s not there, so I am jumping around in the timeline, fully aware of what is missing and mostly how it’ll shape where the story is going.
If my brain says, “Yo, write this scene that happens in the last third of the book,” I’m going to write the fucking scene that happens in the last third of the book. I’m not going to be all, “Nah, man, that has to wait, there are still a hundred pages between here and there!” because by the time I get from here to there I will have lost everything good about what I wanted to write.
So, my classmates and professors get whatever it is I’ve written with outline and explanation of what is missing. I have worked HARD to make it as clear and understandable as humanly possible and I am nutso-insane SICK AND TIRED of having to apologize for it.
It’s not even the people around me! My readers are all REALLY SUPPORTIVE. It’s like I am being COSMICALLY SHAMED into changing the writing method that works for me and that’s total bullshit. I shouldn’t have to apologize for writing what comes easily, naturally. I should be able to write whatever-the-fuck I want to write without feeling like I am breaking some bullshit rules no one bothered to tell me in the first place.
I understand it changes the reads and critiques I’m going to get, but that’s my problem to deal with and one that I am fully willing to accept. I have no problem with, “Hey, I don’t know where this is, so I can’t be of much help plot-wise,” because I will be like, “HEY COOL, I APPRECIATE THE HEADS UP.”
I cannot legitimately be the only writer in the HISTORY OF WRITING PROGRAMS to write non-linearly while shaping the first draft of the novel. And I am real, real tired of having to kowtow and apologize like I’ve done something wrong.
Embracin’ my methods straight-up from HERE ON OUT. TAKE THAT, COSMOS.
The final part of the anxiety isn’t nervousness, it’s fucking-ready-for-this-shit-to-be-done-ness.
My MFA program is great and I am grateful everyday that I get to work with the people I do and that it’s turning out as well as it is and that I don’t, yet, have to work a real job and try to fake my way through real life responsibility.
But I am LEGIT ready for summer. I am in my EIGHTH month with this novel, not counting the three to four months I spent hardcore percolating the story way back in 2008 and I am SICK of this motherfucker.
I love the story still, probably even more than I did when I first came up with the idea, and my writing gets better every single time I sit down to burn through pages, but I am sick of talking about it, thinking about it, critiquing it, breathing it, living it. And I’m not even DONE.
The writing process BLOWS. It’s like African elephant gestation, an abominable pregnancy that is NEVER GOING TO END.
I know it’ll be worth it, that all the agonizing and stressing and misery and anxiety and suffering will be something I can be proud of, but eff that right now. I just want to get drunk and hang out in my BFF’s pool and crack wise about some serious bullshit and get up to some shenanigans.
So, PEACE OUT, SPRING 2010. I am ready for your scantily-clad sister Summer and all the debauchery and freedom she’s got jammed in her jorts pockets. BRING IT ON.