Friday, May 18, 2012

the fallow season

Who needs perfect teeth when you have a bedazzled face?
I started this blog almost exactly seven years ago. I’m sure I have at least seven more years worth of posts in me about movies, books, babies, Taco Bell radio commercials and other pressing matters. But I think it’s time for a hiatus—probably somewhere in the network sitcom range, not the HBO range, length-wise.

I’ve been thinking about living my life in public—something I started doing accidentally as a result of being a writer, an all-too-willing Facebook addict and someone who generally can’t shut up. As much as this blog is not a diary (my actual diary sounds like the most boring therapy session in the world), constantly documenting my life in any capacity has created a weird obsession with presentation. It’s like I visit my blog or my Facebook page to find out what I’m like. The places I need to visit are church, my friends’ houses, my therapist’s office. Maybe some poetic mountain or freeway underpass (depending what kind of poetry you’re into).

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to lurk and listen, and I’ve been trying but often failing on many fronts. I need to stop trying to tell myself the story of myself by telling others. In art and, well, farming, there’s a harvest season and a fallow season. The Facebook/internet break is becoming a regular phenomenon, so I know I’m not alone in craving some fallowness. Constantly trying to sell peaches when the soil in my field is crying out for a little Miracle-Gro is not doing anyone any favors.

I know, that’s really abstract. But I just wanted to say adios until further notice. Which will probably be the next time I binge on a TV show I really want to talk about. (Don’t get me started on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I mean, seriously, I’m not going to start. But I heart Sharon Needles and Latrice Royale so much that I may devote my whole blog hiatus to sewing poodle boots and pasting rhinestones on my eyelids.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Let's all go to the lobby! Let's all check our eeeeemail!
Last night I read with some fabulous gay men at a reading hosted by Artillery Magazine (“the only art magazine that’s fun to read”), which provided free wine for the hour before we took the mic. I have decided this is a key component of a successful reading. Those folks laaaaughed (in a good way) when I read from my Untitled YA Adoption Scam Novel.*

The reading was in the groovy Cactus Lounge at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood. When my dad arrived—and god bless my dad for unblinkingly attending readings where it’s not uncommon for someone to start his (really great) poem with the word “Semen”—we had this conversation:

Me: Did you have any trouble finding the place?

Dad: No, no. It’s kind of run-down, though. At first I thought it was abandoned.

Me: This is a really nice hotel. I could never afford to stay here. I mean, I don’t know if it’s at the top of the trendy hotel list anymore, but—

Dad: The lobby is dimly lit. That might be on purpose. But usually hotels want a well-lit lobby, to look welcoming.

Me: That’s on purpose.

Dad: And the sign outside is upside down, but I’m assuming that’s on purpose too.

Me: That’s on purpose.

Dad: It could really use a coat of paint.

Me: That’s a good point. Maybe it’s not in its heyday.

A few feet from us, in the hotel’s hair salon, a man with pink hair and spiked, clear plastic platform shoes shampooed a customer. In the giant human fish tank behind the reception desk, a model in pajamas checked her email. The last time I was at the Standard, a good ten years ago, they were still filling the tank with scantily clad models posing like statues. I decided I liked the new down-and-out vibe.

*It’s saved in my computer under “Adoption Scam Project.” Every time I see it there, I want to add some kind of note to the FBI (which is naturally keeping tabs on me because I’m very important) that says “This is a fictional story about someone involved in an adoption scam, NOT notes on a scam I am actually running.” I’m paranoid these days.

Monday, May 07, 2012

sadly, my car is not a cyborg (plus what i read in april)

Is that a magnet in your shirt or are you just happy to see me?
My car is such a tease. It’s doing this thing where sometimes it doesn’t start, but it won’t replicate the problem for my mechanic. This morning I tried to explain what Jeff had said to me to my car-expert dad: “It could be that the starter is making the distributor break, or the distributor is making the starter break. But until we figure out which, I can’t replace either.”

My dad proceeded to tell me that what I’d described was physically impossible. Things get lost in the Car-to-Jeff’s Chinese-to-English-to-Cheryl-to-Dad translation. But the problem hasn’t cost me any money yet, and walking the mile and a half to and from the shop was strangely uplifting in the lovely Saturday weather. I prefer to save my getting-upset cards for existential matters. And then, oh, do I play them.

I made Michelada beer cocktails for book club and they were SO GOOD. I got uppity with anyone who disagreed with my love for Man in the Woods (review next month), which was almost everyone.

On Sunday night, AK, Jennifer, Joel and Joel’s friend and I saw The Avengers, which was $220 million worth of meh. Joss Whedon did his best to squeeze some character development between explosions, and I always like Iron Man—is it weird that I think it’s kind of hot that he has, like, a bolt of electricity for a heart? Cyborgs are sexy! Scarlett Johansson was good as Black Widow too, and I liked how Mark Ruffalo played Hulk as full of depressive rage. But Captain America and Thor? No and no. And reams of pointless mythology that just add up to explosions? No.

Here’s what I thought of the books I read in April:

Five Skies by Ron Carlson: This is a book about men and construction and work setting you free. None of those things screams "Cheryl" (though I do like me some work), but I loved the quiet texture of this novel and the gentle, wounded characters. I think Ron Carlson is known as a short story writer, and that shows in the careful tailoring of each un-flashy yet unexpected sentence. I sometimes got lost trying to figure out what exactly the three men at the center of this novel (each running from a troubled past) were building. Seriously, there's a lot of construction lingo. But I enjoyed watching them rebuild their lives piece by piece, and no, the metaphor isn't as ham-fisted as it sounds. Carlson captures the slow, incremental, excruciating, magical process of healing perfectly; how the land and sky shift in an instant or almost imperceptibly.

Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov: There are so many ways to read this book. There's the psychological: pedophile and possible psychopath falls in love, the reality of Lolita finally trumping the fantasy. There's the literary, which seems to be all about memory, fantasy and doubling (I read the ending as Humbert Humbert sort of killing himself. Right?). There's the sociopolitical, which the back of the audio box hinted at--something about postwar America vs. Old Europe, which didn't really resonate with me, even though I love that kind of thing.

What struck me most was how the real Lolita, in all her bratty, neglected, semi-savvy glory, kept edging in on Humbert's impossible dream of freezing his dream girl at age 12. In that way she triumphs, even if she's a victim in other ways. I kept thinking, Wow, dating a 12-year-old would be a nightmare. (Hopefully it goes without saying that dating your creepy stepdad would also be a nightmare.) In the end, seeing Humbert's ironic reserve finally fall away was beautiful and tragic. Jeremy Irons read the audio, so it was like listening to Scar/Stewie Griffin repeatedly declare his love for a tween. It kind of worked.