Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So-called fine Southern ladies and gentlemen.

So my Kindle is causing me to read faster and read an assortment of things that I usually would be afraid to undertake. I think, since I bought it, I have read the thoroughly satisfying HUNGER GAMES trilogy, then the latest TALES OF THE CITY book MARY ANN IN AUTUMN got my attention, then I worked my way through some of WRITING DOWN THE BONES, then I read all of THE HELP in a rather rapid clip, then I thought I might do a classic of some sort. Since that new JANE EYRE movie is coming out, I thought I would finally finish that book - which is always really good when I start it, then it takes a turn for the dark and righteous that I find off-putting.

So then a new friend of mine started talking to me about GONE WITH THE WIND, which I didn't read in high school because most of the girls in Honors English were obsessed with it (and my senior English teacher once got in an argument with all of them about it and memorably called Scarlett O'Hara a bitch, which caused some of the Christian girls to gasp).

The last time I was tempted to consider reading GONE WITH THE WIND was, of course, when I was taking those great writing classes at the Margaret Mitchell House here in Atlanta, which is the "dump" apartment building where Peggy Mitchell first wrote the book. She hated that apartment, but it's where she wrote the book. So the city renovated it, turned it into a museum for both the book and the movie and restored Mitchell's original apartment to its decent, modest, cozy glory.

Walking through the tour of that building and taking a class in the same room where they house the door to Tara from the movie, which I watched at least a dozen times as a kid, it was tempting to pick up the Pulitzer Prize winner, but something kept me from ever doing it. Maybe because the book is damn long, amusingly melodramatic and occasionally bald-faced racist and politically backward in its depiction of loyal, happy slaves and the glorious Old South.

As a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society at UGA 14 years ago, I occasionally got an ear full of anti-Lincoln rhetoric and pro-secession politics. I didn't know that I wanted to dredge up those feelings of "Are some people still feeling this bad about the War Between the States?" dread.

But leave it to a friend shaming me, saying that it was strange of me to dare visit the Margaret Mitchell House without reading the great book, to get me to see if it was available on Kindle when Stephen King's IT couldn't grab my attention for very long.

So now I'm reading Scarlett pine for Ashley while Mammy yells at her. And I'm writing my notes on it as I go. And thus far it's a lot of fun in an antiquated, infuriating, really well-written, funny way.

I guess it was the world's second most popular book for a reason. I think I'm going to stick with it, even though all the historical markers around Atlanta pretty much tell me how it ends for the Confederacy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pretty Polynesian baby.

Since I'm trying different methods of production in regard to my writing output, I thought this evening that I might return to a blog post just to see what happens with it. A lot of my writing practice - inspired by WRITING DOWN THE BONES on my Kindle - has taken the form of self-reflection and journal entry anyway, so why not return to the methods I used to use to see if there is any way that this feels different now than it did in, say, 2004?

Adam, this friend of mine from out of town, is going to Europe next week, and there's an off chance he might go to London. So I started raving about the Tate Modern and the Rothko room there. And just talking about it made me happy. And since Adam and I later started talking about my happiness, how I have the means for it but don't necessary apply those means, I thought about why the Rothko room made me so happy.

It was dim light. It was comforting, simple shapes. It was a vacation moment where I didn't have anywhere to be or, more importantly, anything really to worry about. I had made it my task of the week to have a good time, to try out a new place, and I accomplished that task. I don't always plan to have a good time. Usually, I don't even think about saying that out loud.

So, since I've been dealing with trust issues and trying to explore my own social awkwardness, I wonder why I don't just trust myself. Why do I ask other people if everything is all right rather than just trust for myself that things will be OK if I want them to be? Why do I go to other people for what I should provide myself? Why don't I seek out more empty rooms, more quiet moments, more chances to just be fine without spending so much damn time trying to get everyone else's fucking attention? How come it takes me so long to trust and be OK with people?

Last night, I read by myself at my desk until I felt like writing by myself at my desk. I finished reading a whole novel - THE HELP on my Kindle, which is the fifth book I've read in a month on my Kindle - and finished another three pages in the notebook I'm supposed to fill by Jan. 10. And I had fun.

Going out and seeing Adam made me happy, but worrying over what he thought of me - before I saw him - and whether he might want to be alone with me was not fun. It's not fun to worry if Wordsmiths Joe thinks I'm talking to him too much on Facebook. It's not fun to think to myself, "Maybe it's OK to kiss Bryan. Maybe it's not." It clutters my head and fills my days with too much useless nonsense. Facebook is just a new way to get rejected by people. And didn't I have too many ways before? Why do other people get to decide for me if I am happy?

I decide I'm happy.