Monday, January 30, 2006

Dead Crush #11

When I was in college, I took a course my senior year called “Elvis as Anthology,” taught by an African Studies professor named Peter Nazareth. Peter Nazareth’s whole Elvis thing was that 1) Elvis had created a “pastiche” of different types of music, rather than blatantly stealing music from marginalized artists, and was therefore a brilliant collage artist rather than a cheating sponge; and 2) Elvis spent his life “twinning” himself to other family members and musicians as a result of his twin’s (Jesse) death at birth. I could go on at length about the pastiche thing, which seems like a nice idea if Elvis was savvy enough to be aware that he was doing this (not so much, in my opinion). But what gives me my feelings of tender love toward Elvis are: 1) The movie Blue Hawaii and 2) his dead twin and his lifelong search for near-perfect twin love.

I wish I could explain how much I loved the Elvis class. I would leave every session with an open but blank notebook—I was too rapt with awe to even take notes. I remember very little from my undergrad years, but I do remember trudging to this course even during an Iowa blizzard, while the rest of my roommates stayed at home in pajamas in front of MTV. I was amazed that it was possible to make a career out of listening to the song “That’s All Right, Mama” over and over for a good 10 years and then writing about it. We spent most of each Elvis class listening to Elvis music and then listening to Nazareth tell us about how the song evidenced Elvis’ obsessive twinned relationship with his mother. In this world, weird obsessions were considered academic and were sometimes even published. For about 6 months, this is what I wanted to do. I stopped writing poetry and started writing essays about Rock Hudson, fifties melodrama, the Beatles. I wrote a 20-page paper on the music of John Lennon, where I examined the significance of double tracking and his codependent relationships.

I thought that my interest in Elvis probably had a great deal to do with his twinness. As a twin myself, I felt so sad for him, as he never got to love his twin and had to spend his whole life trying to recreate this unique relationship with mere singletons. In my early-to-mid twenties, I felt a little bit sorry for the twinless as they desperately looked for love in significant others. The poor things couldn’t experience the pure love that can only be had by people who share exact DNA. What I didn’t realize was that I WAS constantly twinning myself to various individuals, just as Elvis had done with his mother and his wife. These pseudo twins just didn’t happen to be people I made out with.

When my sister and I were 18, we had only been separated once before, that I remember—when I went to volleyball camp for a week at the age of 13 (don’t ask). So when we went to different colleges, she to a teeny Quaker school in Indiana and me to a mega university in central Iowa, it was like having my arm ripped off. The ripping was particularly slow and painful, however—I didn’t really notice it happening, as I was so in love with starting over in a place where no one knew me. Gradually I began to feel it, though: the socket of her absence.

In the meantime, I was hard at work on a very codependent relationship with the girl who lived across from me in my dorm, G. She was my best friend, the first one I’d ever had (it’s hard to count your sister as your best friend). We had a highly competitive, jealous, and drama-filled relationship. One day we weren’t speaking; the next, we devised intricate plans to seduce an attractive geek from our Biology lecture. When G. finally ended up making out with this geek in the study lounge, I was beyond angry, mostly because we both realized by this time that G. was gay, though we hadn’t discussed it yet. When she finally did come out to me and started dating women, our relationship improved immensely, though I’m still pretty sure that what had made our relationship so weird up to that point was that we were probably in love with each other and were both too sexually confused to be ok with that.

Since then, I’m fine with the fact that I often “fall in love” with my female friends. I feel a great deal of love and devotion toward them, feelings I have never purely felt toward the people I sleep with. I have “twinned” myself to about a dozen or so women over the years. What’s weird is that my sister does not do this—she is able somehow to have one long-distance twin, while I need to have at least 2 twins if not more. And I don’t understand why I never make my boyfriends my twins (on a couple of occasions, men have played the role of “female twin,” oddly enough) In fact, I’m often pleased when they are jealous of my relationships with women. It seems like a message to them that I don’t really need them. Yes, it is all very fucked up. Hence the $200 a month on therapy.

But I don’t think I’m crazy. I think my dedication to my friends is a good thing. And I wouldn’t describe any of my present friendships with females as unhealthy (this wasn’t always the case). I don’t know if I do this because I’m a twin. But I’m so intrigued by Elvis and by other people who are twinless twins. Though I am only twinless right now because my twin happens to live a million or so miles away, I recognize that my relationships alter dramatically when I’m not living near her. When we lived together in NH, I had no female best friend UNTIL my sister told me she was getting married. Within months, my girlfriend J. and I were inseparable. Please remember that I also had a boyfriend of two years at this point. Who knows where the hell he was. Well, I actually have a pretty good idea about where he was. Apparently non-twins have this need as well. Maybe we are all psychic twinless twins. Maybe that’s just a human condition.

These days, I’m not looking for any kind of twin, except maybe my inner twin. Usually this would be the point where I’d start looking for another male to torture. It feels really great to make the conscious decision not to do this. I though I would be afraid of the silence after Mr. Choad left, but it turns out that there is quite a racket in my head. It keeps me pretty occupied. And all of my “twins” out there have been essential in helping me to tune this incredibly staticky radio which is my head…much more helpful than turning it off, the way that those nontwin boyfriends convinced me to do on a daily basis for nearly ten years. And the way I let them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

This Has Nothing To Do with Dead Crushes

It has to do with my own horn, which I am about to toot. I never thought that a journal this persnickety and snobby would like a weirdo like me, but it turns out that when your former professor solicits your work, it helps you to get published in PLOUGHSHARES.

Sorry to blab like this, but I don't really have many real live people around to tell, and my dog just really doesn't care that much if it isn't chewstick related.

It's coming out in April. And my poem in Verse, which was accepted over two years ago, is coming out next month, supposedly.

Ok, done bragging. Now I'm going to do a little dance.

Friday, January 20, 2006

She Lives

My lawyer isn't dead. She just emailed me. It's a long story, but the main reason behind her disappearance is this: Choad is a total fucktard*.

One of the main things that sucks about actual divorce proceedings is that you not only still have to deal with your ex, but you have to deal with all of the qualities about him that have annoyed you from day one, i.e. the inability to follow simple instructions.

But I believe we are on our way toward settlement negotiations, where we will divide up our one bean and a handful of loose change. Somewhere on the horizon stands shrew, the divorcee.

*I stole this term from Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy. Though she may not have coined it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Astral Plane a.k.a. Procrastination Rears its Ugly Head in a List that contains way too much information

One thing that was kind of cool but also not cool about being married was that there was usually someone around to make out with, even if you weren’t really that attracted to the person anymore. Also, you didn’t have to worry about it being “good” or anything, as they signed a piece of paper saying they would do you forever (at least this is how my marriage appeared to work). One thing that is cool about not being married is that you can do whoever you want, as long as you can convince them that it’s a good idea. One thing that is not so cool about not being married, especially in a town where you’re not really sure where to find unattached people your age who will understand that you do not want a RELATIONSHIP, especially when you’ve just gone off the pill and suddenly your hormones are back along with the depressingly ironic increased risk of the thing the pill is supposed to prevent, is that you spend a lot of time thinking about your imaginary boyfriends. Which I guess is ok. Not “cool,” but just kind of how it is. It seems better than making the list I’ve been compiling in my head of people I think I could convince to have a make-out-only relationship with me. Because let me make this clear: I want no part of a real boyfriend (well, parts are fine, I just don’t want a boyfriend). So in honor of this weird state I’m in (I haven’t been single in nearly 10 years, people—10 YEARS), I’ve compiled a different kind of list. The list of all of the imaginary boyfriends I’ve had in my life to date, in order of their occurrence, though many have had reoccurrences over the years (please see Dead Crush #3 for explanation of Imaginary Boyfriend). I believe this list probably began in about 1982. Please rest assured that I’m not currently thinking of all of these boyfriends. Data, for example: I’m not so into him anymore (although he’s probably about my age now and most likely very cute). Also, the list does not include the nonfamous imaginary boyfriends. There are 40 boyfriends here: symbolizing the 40 days and nights Christ or whoever suffered in the desert or wherever, or the similar months I have gone without smooching. You will notice trends. You’ll see here proof that I am a shallow, objectifying asshole, and I will not argue with you if you accuse me of this. And if all of this makes you too uncomfortable, please look the other way. And yes, I promise not to hit on any of you if I see you in the near future…

1. Jason Bateman (the Silver Spoons years only)
2. Data from Goonies
3. Alex P. Keaton
4. Michael Jackson (youth through Beat It)
5. The guy who plays John Candy’s son in The Great Outdoors
6. Andrew McCarthy (in all movies but Weekend at Bernie’s I and II)
7. Ducky
8. James Spader (only when he plays a jerk, which is most of the time, I guess)
9. Robert Smith (fell in love in 8th grade after I saw him give a guided tour of his house on MTV)
10. Morrissey (really only my boyfriend in 1991—we were just friends after that)
11. Ian Curtis of Joy Division
12. The guy who kills himself in Dead Poets Society
13. The guy who played Joel Fleischman on Northern Exposure
14. The guy who played Chris on Northern Exposure
15. The guy who played Ed on Northern Exposure
16. Kyle McLachlan (as Agent Cooper and in Blue Velvet)
17. Bobby from Twin Peaks (but only briefly)
18. Bono (pre-Zoo TV—I believe I watched the Making of the Unforgettable Fire video no less than 10,000 times in high school)
19. The Edge
20. John Doe of X
21. Michael Ian Black from The State (more attractive now sans early 90s haircut)
22. Hugh Grant (cringe—but only in Merchant Ivory movies. More attractive with early 90s haircut)
23. Steve Malkmus of Pavement
24. Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys
25. Mike D of the Beastie Boys
26. Q-tip of A Tribe Called Quest
27. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer (I know, I know—the Japan fetish thing. But I can’t help it, I have a geek fetish)
28. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp (this boyfriend seems to come back repeatedly—though I saw pictures of him at John Peel’s funeral…not pretty)
29. The lead singers of most British bands from the years 1992-1996
30. Jonathan Richman of the Modern Lovers (The only imaginary boyfriend I’ve ever met—at the Ogunquit Ballroom in Ogunquit, ME. He signed a paper bag for me during several seconds of uninterrupted eye contact)
31. Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day (I secretly love even new Green Day. Guess that’s not a secret anymore)
32. Buddy Holly? (I can’t explain this one)
33. George Harrison (pre-80’s)
34. Paul McCartney (pre-Wings)
35. Xander from Buffy (seasons 1 and 2 only)
36. Note long pause from imaginary boyfriends during the months/years I was actually in love with a real person
37. Elijah Wood
38. A semi-imaginary boyfriend as I imagined Sam from Freaks and Geeks as an older geek (I’m no pedophile)
39. Federico from Six Feet Under
40. Nate from Six Feet Under (though he sometimes bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my mean exes)
41. Gram Parsons

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How do you know if your lawyer is dead?

I think maybe my lawyer died. She won't return my calls or emails. Usually I do everything in my power to avoid contacting her, as the prices she charges seem more appropriate for sexual acts than for reading an email and taking a file out of a drawer. But I may not need to pay her for these transactions, because she's probably dead.

I think the degree to which I desire to be divorced now is causing me to panic. I actually thought about checking the obituaries in the local paper on my way back to work, just to make sure she hadn't died. Maybe she's just really busy. But I hired her to make my life easier, not to panic more. There is already enough panic in my life. I wish now to take back all of the bragging I have done about her.

If you see her, please tell her I would like to get divorced, preferably in this lifetime. She is fairly young, has glasses and talks way too much. Hmm, kind of like my ex-husband (or HUSBAND I should say, since her disappearance is forcing me to remain married). I knew he was involved somehow. He probably had her killed so he could get my measly savings account. And the shower head. Or maybe they met and realized that their similar hipster glasses and talents for interrupting people meant that they should be together forever and he dumped the chipmunk photographer and they ran away to wherever losers run away to, and she decided that because of this she can no longer represent me fairly and has dumped me just like he dumped me.

Or maybe I just need a longer vacation.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dead Crush #10

Every winter I lived in New Hampshire, my friend S. grew a big, bushy beard. And every year, as a rite of spring (which in New Hampshire actually comes sometime in July), he would choose an evening to shave it down to a Selleck-style ‘stache and proclaim that evening Mustache Night. The most exciting thing that could ever happen to you was to hear a knock on your door sometime in late May, when the days were long and the stupid snow was finally starting to disappear, and find S. on your porch in a tie and big old mustache. “Guess what tonight is?” he would say, and you knew, as you leaned on the doorway in helpless laughter, that things were going to get hectic.

The reason I bring up S. is because he’s the only male person I know, with the exception of the wonder that is John Ritter, who has made me pee myself with laughing (Steve Martin ALMOST made me pee. Almost.) I don’t know what it was about S., but pretty much all I had to do was look at him and I would start laughing, even if he didn’t have the mustache. On Mustache Night, S. was allowed to do whatever he wanted. For some reason, this usually meant getting drunk at a bowling alley and trying to feel up his friends, usually while wearing a three-piece suit or at least a vest. Or he would wrestle you. He would look at you cross-eyed and say “You smell pretty” in a creepy voice, and then try to wrestle you. I think every time he wrestled me I ended up peeing, or at least running to the bathroom in the nick of time. S’s girlfriend (now wife) pointed out quite frequently that S. only wanted to wrestle girls. I did have a little crush on S., but it didn’t have anything to do with wrestling. It was his ability to make me laugh until the tears ran down my face. If you can do this, I will be in love with you forever. Or if you have a girlfriend, at least have a little crush on you. (Aside: Choad never made me pee. He did make me laugh on occasion, just not very hard).

This picture of John Ritter is from my favorite Three’s Company Episode ever, the one where Jack and Janet go to some party on a tropical island they have to fly to, and Jack takes tranquilizers with a drink called The Rocket because he’s scared of flying. And when he gets to the party, he’s, well, Jack Tripper on tranquilizers and The Rocket. There were many zany dance moves and inappropriate double entendres. The first time I watched this episode, when I was about 8 years old, I peed myself as I lay on the floor helpless with laughter. And I was immediately in love.

Around this time, one of our church ministers gave a sermon about all of the dirty shows on TV that you shouldn’t let your kids watch. Of course Three’s Company was among them. I think this was at the point where they had Chrissy’s third replacement (Terry?) so the new ones weren’t really worth watching anyway. What me and my siblings really cared about were the reruns of the seventies episodes, which usually came on as my parents were making dinner. Halfheartedly, my dad would come in to tell us to change it to The Andy Griffith show or its equivalent, but he would invariably become engrossed in whatever the Three’s Company Misunderstanding of the day was. When something sexual was implied, he remembered his mission and barked at us to change the channel. After a while, my parents got tired of enforcing this rule, as they did with most rules, especially since it was kind of hard to prevent us from watching Dallas (another condemned show) when they weren’t ABOUT to stop watching that.

The way I see it, John Ritter was made for kids. He was the most brilliant physical comedian that ever lived, and I think he was way underrated. When he appeared as Joyce’s evil robot boyfriend on an episode of Buffy a few years ago, I nearly jumped up and down. It was perfect. I know he was on some kind of family sitcom when he died, but whoever his agent was should have known that he needed to play the weirdest, grossest, most John Wateriest roles available. Was he ever in a John Waters movie? Oh, he should have been. When I was eight, I loved him so much for his weirdness, his silliness. Nowadays I feel that I am often antisilly. I’m too cynical for silliness. This makes me feel sad, as I was all about silly when I was little. I would whip myself up into a tornado of silliness, until my parents would yell at me to go outside. I think I need some silliness in my life. Maybe I should start doing drugs again.

I must say, historically, that girls are way better at making me laugh myself into a state of helplessness and/or urination (though of course the dudes have helped to accomplish at least the helpless state on several occasions). Whoever says that girls aren’t funny (people do say this) needs to spend an hour or so with any one of my female friends. Of course, the things I find funny may not be funny to everyone. One of my favorite moments of crying with mirth (aside from the magic-mushroom induced ones—good times, good times) was about ten years ago, drunk or extremely hung over in the house I shared with my 4 college girlfriends. C., (one of these ladies) and I were lying on the floor, trying, together, to use a bottle cap as an ashtray. In response to something I said (sometimes I can be charming or at least kind of sweet when hung over or very tired), C. asked “Can I marry you?”

“Ok,” I said.

“Can my vow to you be ‘Crunch all you want, we’ll make more?’” asked C. tiredly.

I looked at her as I often did: in awe/disbelief that someone this perfect could be my friend. “Yes,” I said, then laughed until I wet my pants.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Because I don't have time to write anything else

I really will write a new dead crush soon, as soon as I answer all of these damn work emails (so it might be next week). I have three in the works: Elvis, Joseph Cornell, and John Ritter. Any votes?

What I keep thinking about is how my brother says "All of the sudden" instead of "All of a sudden." Has he always said this? Or is it a result of his new Super Michigan Marriage? He also now has a really strong Michigan accent. It makes me want to say, as I often say to my family members (inside my head): Who ARE you?

That doesn't sum up my holiday season very well. It was kind of wonderful. I spent a great deal of time in a car, I talked and talked and talked, I was given a gift, I sat in a hot tub, I watched a very small baby do a couple of things, I walked a dog, I got drunk, I avoided drama with someone I tend to be very dramatic about, I watched part of the movie "Lust in the Dust" starring Divine, I ate many cookies, I smoked about 8 cigarettes, I laid on a hotel bed, I slid in something on a city street and twisted my ankle but kept beaming through it all because being there made me so happy, I fought with my mom, I held hands with my sister, I watched King Kong (shudder), I went to bed at 10 on New Year's Eve as an excuse to avoid playing games with my family because that's the kind of daughter I am.

Now I have to get back to work because I am wicked behind.