sparkler

Below is the first part of a short story I wrote, which is part of a book of short stories I’m working on. I intend to publish one part of the longish short story “Crushed Rubies” about once a week for the next few weeks. —– The initial thrill of leaving was gone, and Mariana was in a highway trance. She felt numb from the driving. Numb in her body, and finally, after weeks of overwhelming emotions, numb in her mind. In her… Read more »

breakfastclub

“When you grow up, your heart dies.” That line from The Breakfast Club is so painfully true, it shatters me every time. The good news is that you can grow a new, improved one if you’re up for it. As we mature we learn hard truths about the world, and ourselves, our innocence shatters, and we feel betrayed by all the lies and misunderstandings we had as a child. We see how ruthless people can be, and how devastating hard it is to live your dreams or find any little scrap of happiness. Growing cold and bitter can seem like a perfectly reasonable response of a sensitive creature to a cruel world.

We all know grumpy older people, and may even feel that we are becoming one ourselves, but in reality it may actually be younger people, teenagers and twentysomethings, that struggle the most with blaming their problems on others, and having sour world views. You can make disillusionment work for you if you realize you don’t need illusions to begin with.

hemingways

Mariel Hemingway is attempting the lift the “curse” of self-destruction that plagues her gifted and beautiful family. The patriarchal figure, Ernest Hemingway, whose golden words still seduce the masses, is at once a symbol of robust life, and of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. There is growing research that indicates these traits: alcoholism and mental illness are often linked to genetics. Of course, a toxic or emotionally unstable family life can lead to mood problems regardless of the genetics – whether it’s nature or nurture or a poison soup of both, madness tends to run in families. In Running From Crazy, a Barbara Kopple directed documentary film that came out last year and is now getting a run on Oprah’s OWN Network, Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter Mariel Hemingway confronts her family’s decades-long curse of despair in an attempt to understand it and break free of it.

zadiesmith

In 2010 author Zadie Smith offered these 10 tips for writing as part of a project for The Guardian inspired by a similar list Elmore Leonard provided The NY Times 10 years earlier. Other authors participated in this exercise, but Zadie’s was the one I found on Tumblr today, and it stopped me dead in my tracks with it’s leveling wisdom. Numbers four, nine, and ten can apply to absolutely anything in life, but number three gets down to the core of it: “You can either write good sentences or you can’t.”

myhead

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. Many people are destined to experience some symptoms of major depressive disorder throughout their lifetime, usually in response to a major life change or loss. Sometimes, though, depression strikes for seemingly no reason. Is there really an evolutionary reason for crippling depression that makes you not even feel like a human being, that makes you into a person who can’t even hate anymore?

The Room’s auteur Tommy Wiseau is an American. That’s the first thing he’d probably want you to know about him. And he’s right, he is American, and like most Americans and their ancestors, Tommy is an immigrant, but he doesn’t like to talk about that. He’d prefer that fans of his magical film experience believe he’s from Louisiana, where he spent some time with his aunt and uncle before settling down in San Francisco in the 1970s, but his broken English and tangled accent are embarrassingly obvious tells. It’s been tracked down that Tommy was probably born in Poland and he has often said he spent a good part of his younger days in France, which accounts for his mixed accent. Most people would think nothing of mentioning their native country even if they want to keep some details private. For Tommy Wiseau, all details are private and the truth is something that you construct for yourself. Tommy isn’t interested in the wonderful mixing of cultures in the United States, instead he’s locked on with a vice-grip to an important American trope: The Self-Made Man. This dude is vampiric absurdist Don Draper who everyone knows is really Dick Whitman.

cutieandtheboxer

For Ushio Shinohara, one of the subjects of the 2013 documentary Cutie and The Boxer, art is more than a passion: it is a dire fight. Figuratively, yes. But also literally. He makes his signature pieces by strapping sponges to boxing gloves and aggressively attacking the canvas. The finished product is captivating and reflects the violence of its making, but watching Ushio making it is a visceral performance art in itself. The tiny self up against the vast and awful and sparkling world, fighting for a piece of it. Wanting to snatch the marrow out of it, wanting to eviscerate the disappointments of it. Wanting to be rewarded for the fight. Punching at the demon at his heels, making it stronger all the while. Ushio kind of likes his demons. We all do to an extent.

sylviaplath

Several years ago a writing professor told me that Sylvia Plath was an awful person. It altered something within me, something that had been tearing at me since adolescence when I first read The Bell Jar. I did not rebel against his assertion. I accepted his flippant rejection of her because it resembled something healthy. It gave me an alternative. It told me that I could reject her if I wanted, and maybe I should. He spoke with the assuredness of someone who had been personally wronged by a person. Maybe he had been. Maybe Sylvia had done something terrible to him. Maybe she had done something terrible to me.