Saturday, August 29, 2009
I am grateful that I made it out of the darkest days of my life alive. I am grateful that I am here to raise Atticus and enjoy each day of my life. I am grateful that I am not trapped in a prison of my own making and it is my greatest hope that those who are find their way out.
Friday, August 28, 2009
This is a day late. Dominick Dunne has passed away, as some of you may know. I discovered his writing through the pages of Vanity Fair as a young teen. (obituary)
I have always been enthralled and inspired by his life. A few facts: He did not start writing until the age of 50. His daughter Dominique was violently killed as a young woman. She was an actress and played the older sister in Poltergeist. Dominick turned the pain of losing his daughter into a lifetime of advocating upon the behalf of victims. His brother was writer John Gregory Dunne and his sister-in-law was Joan Didion. In my humble opinion, his was the most compelling coverage of the OJ Simpson trial.
I have to say that in my many years of subscribing to and reading Vanity Fair, Mr. Dunne's articles were always what captured me and always what I wanted to read first. He will be greatly missed by many, not the least of which is me, one of his fans. Thank you Mr. Dunne and Good Night.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I found myself in a "Friendly's" today. For those of you that don't know, "Friendly's" is a sort of ice cream parlor come diner chain, scattered around the North East US. Its clientele boasts a real cross section of "America's finest." Anyways, seated at the table across from us were two men. They may have been lovers or brothers or friends. I would wager to guess that they were romantically involved. The thing that struck me was their absolute dearth of any discernible communication. They did not speak. They did not make eye contact. Their body language made no contact with the other.
I began to wonder about couples who cease to communicate. I have never been in that position, mostly because I have never had a relationship that lasted over enough time to warrant such mutual muteness. I have often been fascinated by these couples, people who have chosen to spend their life, or at the very least large chunks of time, together, only to spend it in silence. Are they lonely? Do they talk to other people? Do they find this depressing? Have they merely run out of things to say? Perhaps I am too chatty to ever really experience that. Or, as I just said, my inability to sustain a long-term relationship, has kept me safe from that sort of enforced solitude.
I guess I have not much else to say about it. If anyone that happens to be reading this can shed any light on this phenomenon, please do not hesitate to comment or email me.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
(The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali, 1931)
I have a really good memory. It is not perfect, but it is frighteningly sharp. My friends and I joke that I have a "steel trap." This memory of mine is the reason I have earned the nickname "Rarely Wrong Erin." It comes in handy for Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, a number of such game shows, winning arguments and debates. I remember nearly everything. It annoys and fascinates those closest to me. There have been countless instances of friends asking me to remember some detail of a story they told me, a story I had not lived but only heard through their retelling. I've had friends who make a sport out of trying to trip me up on some fact or detail. They relish in those victories, that seem few and far between.
In school, my memory served me well. I could cram for a test at the last minute, read the material and be able to put it all back in the correct places on a test. School came easily to me. Tests were easy for me. This has always led me to believe that standardized testing has very little to do with the material you are learning. It seems it is more about one's ability to take a test.
The persistence of memory is a double-edged sword. I feel as if I have spent chunks of my life trying to blot out this memory, blur the edges of hard facts and the emotions of experience. I can remember every tiny painful moment, all the little deaths in my timeline. I can remember detailed specifics about any number of days as a child. I remember all the good moments too. These moments replay themselves inside of me. This, in turn, makes the longing for them all that more profound. I can get lost in memory. My memory has a way of obliterating present time and it's something I have had to become very conscious of.
I have also found great interest in that which I do not remember. What is it about that small fact or event that I have no recollection of? Is it something I worked on forgetting? Are there magical holes that some information happens to slip through? I often think of my brain, or more specifically my memory, as this enormous filing cabinet that is tended to by an army of office workers. Did one of these workers mistakenly not file something? Were they on a coffee break? Were they engaged in flirtation with a colleague? Or, did they, out of kindness, omit some painful bit of information from my database?
Having said all this, the absolute truth is, despite my recall abilities, I am often wrong. Therein lies the irony of "Rarely Wrong Erin." My decision making has often undermined the wisdom of my memory and reason. I may be "right" about the minutiae, but I often get the life stuff, oh so wrong. Then, when I make those errors in judgement, I never ever let myself forget.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I have an 11 year old sister. I was looking at her report card last night and I found it very confusing. There are no A,B,C,Ds. There are no effort marks of U, S or E. There is a numbers system and a more complicated reading code (from A to Z). It was 4 pages long. I wonder if my Mom still has my old report cards. I would love to look at them and see all the teachers' comments. I would venture to guess that, in some ways, they have not really changed in content. Although, with all of the "political correctness" injected into our language combined with the fear of the frivolous lawsuit, I wonder if teacher commentary has had to change.
This long tangent leads me to where my train of thought went. I was thinking about G.A.T.E., the Gifted and Talented Education program, that is still in existence in the American public school system. In googling G.A.T.E., I discovered that it is also an acronym for a totally different type of program in Vernon Hills- Gang Awareness Training and Education. They couldn't have found another acronym? I digress.
The purpose of G.A.T.E., in my time, was to enrich the study regiment of students who had tested over a certain place on the IQ spectrum. So, in 1st or 2nd grade, teachers picked a handful of children who they believed to be eligible and we were given IQ tests. I was placed in the G.A.T.E. program. The best part about it, is that the program really did very little to enrich our educational experience, The highlights of that experience: performing Little Red Riding Hood, or I should say Le Petit Chaperon Rouge in French and attending a Rubik's cube convention. Yes, a gathering of elementary school brainy types to talk about the Rubik's cube? Outside of those two stellar memories, I really don't recall that we received any other "enrichment." Perhaps we did and I am blocking it out. I do know that I was perpetually bored in school, so the program could not have been that exciting. One rather humiliating moment was when, as a first grader, I was coerced into going to a class of 5th graders and reading some advanced sort of book to them. I guess the purpose was to say "hey if this first grader can do it, you 5th graders have a lot of catching up to do!" I found the whole experience utterly humiliating. It turned me, in the eyes of these kids 5 years older than me (I was a year young for my grade as it was), into this pompous little ass who was showing off her skills. I hope these programs have since changed. Chances are they have, as I am old.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
First, let me set the stage. I must have been 8 or 9 years old. My parents were already separated and my father was living in NY. He had a condo and boat at the beach in Southern California. My mother and I used to spend weekends down there, as he flew back to LA almost every weekend.....in on Friday night and back out Sunday night on the red eye. Needless to say, my parents, although involved in other romantic entanglements, maintained a blurry relationship with one another. Why this is a part of the story, I don't know, but I am including it anyway.
OK, so one Saturday night my parents had rented The Elephant Man and, as I am sure you have guessed or there would be no story, we watched it. While I loved the film, the true story of Joseph Merrick haunted me in a way I could not, with my limited childhood experiences, have anticipated. It crystallized, for me, the depth of cruelty in the world. I was so hysterical at the end of the film, that my mother actually slapped me, in an attempt to snap me out of it. It was one of those moments, as a kid, where a little more innocence is lost. I was already a pretty pensive child. This brought up in me 2 very clear things: a poignant and sharp anguish, based on both the disappointment in humanity, as well as a comprehension of true suffering; secondly, a rage surged inside me, a rage directed at injustices brought upon by mankind.
Later that year, I got into my one and only fight at school. I walked into the girls' bathroom and found 2 girls, who were a year older but c-list at best (yes, I was a-list popular in school), cajoling one of the special-ed students, a boy named Jonathan, to eat shit, literally, out of the toilet. That familiar rage rose up in my chest. I grabbed Jonathan and told him to leave the bathroom and never listen to these girls again. I grabbed one of those little bitches by the throat and pressed her against the wall. The other idiot stood by, speechless. I told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was DEAD at this school. I may have been popular, but I was not a total asshole about it. I pretty much got along with everyone. I made sure that all of my friends knew what they had done, and put a social hit, or as close to a social hit as a 9 year old can do, on them.
I have not been the same, since seeing that film oh so many years ago. It profoundly affected me. I remember the closing scene so clearly. I have included it below. Don't watch it if you plan on seeing this film for the first time. I will tell you this, in watching the final scene again, for the first time since then, the tears flowed and I have to say, that the story of John Merrick could teach us all something about life.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
If you ever happen to find yourself in the vicinity of Conway, New Hampshire, do yourself a favor and check out the old-timey (yes I just used the phrase old-timey) goodness that is Zeb's General Store. They have every yummy type of thing you can think of....root beer barrels and anise bears, all types of licorice and sweet sticks, zesty pickles and kettle corn, toys and jams and sauces and 8 ounce cold sodas in glass bottles. You will have to forgive my shoddy iPhone photos. I love general stores and I love New Hampshire. I love you too.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
If you want me to fall in love with you, please get me one of these (top 2 photos) as a gift. It is a wooden periodic table of elements, made by this dude Theodore Gray, who could clearly be my long lost soul mate. This is an actual periodic table table. So rad.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Ok, in keeping with the sexy, stylish, horror film from the 70s theme.....do yourself a favor and get acquainted with director Nicolas Roeg .
In particular, spend some time with another one of my favorites "Don't Look Now." Stylish, haunting and timeless, it features some of the best editing ever, a lesson in absolute perfection of building suspense and the best love scene ever (between the divine Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland). This is one of my top 5 favorite films of all time and DEFINITELY a date movie. This film could seduce me in under a minute flat.....although, I may not be our average "target audience." Again, enjoy both the trailer and a clip below and please don't speak to me until you have watched this film in its entirety. Thanks.
(PS. The second clip features the love scene and is NSFW)
So, late last night, I found myself perusing ye olde Youtube and watched a couple of scenes from, one of my all time favorite films, "Suspiria." This 1977 Dario Argento gem has sooo many things to love....a creepy ballet school in Germany's Black Forest, potentially run by an evil coven of witches, amazing art direction, fantastic fashion, one of the best murder scenes on film and an epic soundtrack by Italian rock band, Goblin. It is also the last film to be processed in Technicolor, so visually it is pretty mind-blowing. I highly recommend you Netflix this immediately, if you have never seen in. For a taste, watch the clip! Also, it is my very humble opinion that this would make a great "date" movie! On second thought, it could also scare your potential date away.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
So, awhile back, a friend of mine showed me these amazing old photos on her friend's Facebook page. Said friend collects old photos they find in thrift stores, at garage sales, etc. I loved some of them so much (for various reasons) that I had her email them to me. I stumbled across them a couple days ago and I just love them. There are endless stories to be told in each photograph.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Last month, I went to see the Francis Bacon exhibit at The Met. While roaming the halls, I stumbled across this photograph of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz. When I was 17, I was dating a guy who was a Philosophy major at Pitzer. He gave me a hardcover copy of "The Madman and The Nun (and other plays)", by Witkiewicz, that he procured from the school library. I still have the book. Needless to say, I am sure the library fines have become quite steep. The play profoundly influenced me at the time, so much so, that my best friend and I even made a (really bad) short film version of the play. In case you're wondering, I played the part of the nun. I wonder if Daniel still has that film somewhere. Anyways, several years later I stumbled upon his novel "Insatiability" at the library (during my 4 books a week horrible insomnia period), read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend reading both. If you enjoy them, then maybe we can be friends.