Saturday, April 21, 2012

sf to dallas

Cowboys, Republicans and prepsters, oh my!
Another whirlwind work trip, this time to San Francisco. I was in a better mood, and it didn’t hurt that I got to see a couple of old friends, the kind who are endowed with magical powers in both the healing and philosophical arts. Jamie and I also saw Kay Ryan read, which worked its own kind of magic.

She’s a quirky lady: charming and sort of adorable in a way you wouldn’t associate with a middle-aged butch woman, but stopping short of schticky. A lot of her poems rhyme—subtly and impressively—and she would stop in the middle and say something like, “Now, did you catch that rhyme?” or “Can you believe I rhymed ‘why we’ with ‘Hawaii’? Isn’t that just terrible?” or “Do you all know what the word ‘greensward’ means?”

(It means “turf that is green with growing grass.” It appeared in a poem about Easter Island and the delicious audacity of artists.)

It takes guts to engage with your audience that way. In my mind, I have a silent agreement with my audience, which is: I will do my best to read well and be moderately entertaining, as long as you at least pretend to listen. But Kay Ryan wasn’t content to just pretend. She checked in with us at every turn, and even though no one was likely to be like, “I did not catch that rhyme and that poem is boring,” she wasn’t letting herself or us off easy.

There’s probably some sort of great life lesson there, about holding people and yourself to high standards and everybody getting more in return for it. Sometimes I think I’m overly critical of people, and other times I’m this pathetic puppy who will take whatever scrap she can get. I feel like those things must be related.

Meanwhile, on the lowbrow end of my hi-lo life, I have become strangely addicted to The A-List Dallas, which is, as Logo so eloquently puts it, “Housewives with balls, y’all.” It’s a terrible trashy show about vapid gays in Dallas, and I’m watching it in the no-man’s-land of the internet, so for all I know it aired three years ago on a cable channel that no one gets. So this post could not be less relevant—this is why I blog instead of maintain a career as an entertainment journalist, y’all.

I came for the drama, but I’ve sort of fallen for the characters and their achingly sweet dysfunctions. Maybe I’ve been borrowing the psychoanalytic* spectacles through which AK now sees the world, but I feel like it’s clear that Philip is such a gossip because he’s scared to move forward with his own love life because it would mean being fully out to his mom.

Chase can convince himself he doesn’t need anything more than sex from Levi because he’s managed to convince himself he doesn’t need love from his parents either (although, as one of the few reasonably intelligent characters on the show, I think he acknowledges this). And hello, could Levi be more avoidant? He kisses Taylor just to make Taylor stop talking about their otherwise nonexistent relationship!

You have no idea who any of these people are, do you? That’s how it should be—you have better things to do with your time. So do I. I’m going to go do them right now. Maybe.

*Yes, AK, I know I am not really using that term correctly. I know it’s a specific school of thought, not just a catch-all for therapy-type stuff. But as fiction writer and blogger, I feel duty-bound to use pop psychology to fit my personal, ridiculous needs.

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