Wednesday, February 20, 2008

These here things make me glad.

Trying to figure out how to play a happy character, I'm making a list of small things, props and memories that might help me change my mood and build a character. I'm keeping this list here so that I'll be able to add to it or refer back to it in the future. I got this idea because my mom used to have this collection of Peanuts cartoons in a book called HAPPINESS IS A WARM PUPPY.


* The color blue.
* A bouquet of flowers.
* A new Moleskine notebook.
* The time I met Michael Chabon on his birthday and managed to impress him.
* Meryl Streep's disco number at the beginning of DEATH BECOMES HER.
* White chocolate banana creme pie from Buckhead Diner.
* The time I met Parker Posey at a Q&A, and she was drunk and crazy - and then she called me "hostile."
* Just the right music.
* The time I met my friend Emily, who came into the bookstore to buy the first copy of her very first novel on the day it was released.
* Henry Fonda falling down in THE LADY EVE.
* The day I spent fulfilling my duties as a "bridesmaid" for my friend Kate by driving her around and helping her try on wedding dresses. I took photo after photo of the dresses she tried because her mother wasn't able to be there. Later, at the wedding, I wore a periwinkle vest and stood on the bride's side during the wedding. It was the only wedding I've ever been in, and I was a male bridesmaid. (As an added bonus, my tux meant that the other bridesmaids could stuff tissues into my pocket so that, should anyone on the row start to cry, I could quickly supply relief.)
* "Dyslexic Heart" by Paul Westerberg.
* My sister-in-law Samantha is an elementary school teacher, and she puts these dots on the stems of every letter she prints longhand. Her voice is always chipper, too, and encouraging in that sweet, easy way I can't manage.
* The monologue that Parker Posey delivers in the deleted scenes on the DVD of WAITING FOR GUFFMAN.
* One time, I ran into a Kroger, grabbed a rose from a refrigerator case, ran to the Express Lane and bought it. A pregnant woman in line said that she wished someone would buy her a rose like that. So I ran back to the refrigerator case again, grabbed another rose, ran to the Express Lane, bought it and handed it to the pregnant woman.
* The performance of "Stonehenge" in THIS IS SPINAL TAP.
* My nephews DJ and Andrew, particularly moments when they were born or moments when I got to carry them around and talk just to them so that they wouldn't cry when they were babies.
* Bright colors.
* That fake swing-dancing move that I do sometimes, either in a scene or just standing around talking to a girl.
* One time, I tried swing-dancing with my friend Vic in the middle of Parisian at Gwinnett Place, but my footing was off. So I tripped her, and she fell into a display of shirts in Mens Wear.
* The essay reading I did in April 2006 at an academic conference, where friends from all different aspects of my life came together at the Marriott Marquis to see me read. My best friend Lupo was there.
* At the bookstore, I had to dress up as this giant puppy dog named Biscuit for children's storytime. It was hot in the suit, and I couldn't see anything. But I got mobbed by little kids hugging me.
* Listening to Sarah Vowell read her essay "Shooting Dad" on a CD of NPR's THIS AMERICAN LIFE.
* Playing Scrabble with my friend Daniel.
* The callouses on my friend Daniel's fingers, which he's gotten from meticulously repairing string instruments in a workshop for years.
* Playing Rum 500 with my Grandpa.
* Playing Trivial Pursuit with Lupo.
* The final 10 minutes of CHINATOWN are devastating, but it's also the best movie ending maybe ever.
* The time I visited Lupo and tripped over a stick within five minutes of arriving, and he flew into this panic, rushed me into his house, treated and bandaged my arm. Then, he made this joke about these WWI-era Maisie Dobbs mystery novels he reads. It was cute. You had to be there.
* The Jimmy Stewart-Katharine Hepburn drunk scene in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY.
* Beef stew.
* Sitting with my friend Carrie on the member balcony on the roof of the Tate Modern in London.
* Episodes of GILMORE GIRLS.
* Every August at the family reunion, my cousin Holly and I break away from our parents and everybody else, and we head out to whatever dive-bar we can find and talk about all the inappropriate things we can't say in front of other relatives. And we gossip. And, this last year, for some reason, we played mini-golf and rode on go-carts.
* Smiling.
* Laughing.
* Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime"
* Listening to my mom - who's now suffering from severe hearing loss - sing the way she used to when she was a church choir director.
* My mom told me this story once about singing at a fraternity formal when she was in college. They hired her to wear a pink cocktail dress, stand in a spotlight next to a grand piano and sing "I Will Wait for You" from THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. She was maybe 19 years old. I wish I could've seen her do that. I bet she was pretty. I bet it was fun.
* Awkward phone calls with my brother Dan, when we're clearly both trying and trying and trying to connect.
* "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from GUYS AND DOLLS.
* Singing in my car.
* Those moments with friends when you can discover the means to a great evening without making a single plan.
* Dancing in my apartment.
* When I walk around humming.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

I look at the blog now, and I'm reminded of how the blog used to be. Since it once was my primary outlet, it was updated constantly and featured all sorts of links and chatter about books and movies and such. But then I joined a writing class, and then I started taking improv classes. And then I learned that sometimes it's easier to live life if you're not constantly introspective about it. Life is so much nicer now that the blog is less current.

I suppose an unexamined life is sometimes - in spite of what the adage says - easier to live with.

I had an interview today, and I think it went all right. I was nervous, but I liked the people at the company.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream.

When Amie and I went to a Chinese restaurant this weekend, my fortune cookie message was a dud.

You will be getting new clothes.

Meanwhile, Amie's promised her a life of success in the entertainment industry, so she said she would rather have my sucky fortune than her own. Maybe she realized that being a modern celebrity was a taxing, annoying prospect that she didn't want to bear. She maybe thought of photographers chasing her like Britney Spears, having to live up to the hype. She probably didn't want to shave her head in open defiance of her "image." She likely imagined the ROLLING STONE covers that would predict her downfall, saying things like "Amie: An American Tragedy."

She said she'd rather have my fortune because, faced with the alternative of having her face on US WEEKLY, it seemed infinitely less stressful to get a new pair of socks.


I'm here at my desk, looking over some other fortune cookie messages that I've collected. I save the ones that I like or the ones I cannot understand.

You will make many changes before setting satisfactorily.

This one is taped up in my cube at work because it reminds me whenever I look at it that I'm not satisfactorily settled yet and that my future is ahead of me.

You will soon be crossing desert sands for a fun vacation.

If I think of this one as a metaphor, it makes me think of keeping hope in spite of challenges. If I think of this as literal, I'm bummed out. I can't stand the sand and cannot imagine that crossing a desert would make for a fun vacation for anyone. Chevy Chase certainly didn't make it look fun in that first NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION.


The constructive use of riches is better than their possession.

This one is my current favorite. I got it around the time in November when I interviewed for a job that I didn't get, but my preparation for the interview showed me that I was capable - when properly motivated - to do some really extensive research and really good work. I was proud of how I prepared for the job interview, even though I didn't get the job, and that seemed like a decent enough accomplishment since I feel inert most days. The fortune reminds me to use the tools I have, that it's not merely enough to know you have talents. You have to use them.

I did not save my worst fortune cookie message ever, but I do remember it verbatim.

This biscuit pleases you.

No, it really didn't. And, if I was one of those people who put 'in bed' at the end of all my fortune cookie messages, the biscuit still wouldn't please me.