Insidious: (def.) – proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.

Saw Insidious last night, 9:35 showing at Bella Terra, we got there 45 minutes early and landed in the middle of a wide, long line that curved in on itself to remain indoors. There is nothing like seeing a scary movie on Friday the 13th. They say that live theater has more immediacy than watching a film, that the communal experience is enhanced by the fact that we are connecting with real people right in front of us, like it is purer somehow, but I don’t know, tonight the excitement was like a sickness. 

A couple weeks ago I went to go see a play in one of those tiny Hollywood theaters. WeHo, lots of gay dudes wearing those longish tight shorts, that me, moms and golfers only love. “Woman Are Crazy Because Men Are Assholes” was the title. I heard about it on LA Talk Radio, the writer seemed cool, guy wrote it as a play knowing it could never be a movie, the LA Times wrote a good review. I’m trying to do that sort of thing more (a for every live sporting event, one play sort of agreement) but really it was kind of a let down and I think part of it was that I didn’t buy into that communal experience.

The audience was just a little too pretty and laughed a little too hard, the self-consciousness was palpable. Then there was this weird I should have been up there, it could have been us vibe afterwards. The same vibe that happens in the LA literary reading scene sometimes. Maybe my assumption–that I was essentially watching actors watch other actors–is just me projecting, I love and hate LA equally, just like the next guy…but tonight at the megaplex in the middle of the burbs, well, there wasn’t none of that.

On KPCC this morning, Alex Cohen had a fascinating segment about those girls in Massachusetts that started developing twitches and other involuntary vocalizations and such, to the point that two of them even “died of” suicide (a friend told me that’s the new sensitive way to phrase it). It was pretty radical for KPCC to cover that story I think, but I guess if the Atlantic vouches for it then you can’t be considered a lunatic, because it feels like more of a George Noory “Coast to Coast” type story. The expert she had on was talking about how normal it is for psychological disturbances to manifest in the body. Chewing on pens, sweaty hands, stomach in knots, that sort of thing. Then she explained how basically on a subconscious level humans are so vulnerable to suggestion that it’s easy for us to pick up on each other cues. I guess the case with the girls is still a mystery but it might be an extreme example of this, was her point. Anyway, it’s all very interesting.

So tonight in the movie I was very conscious of all this I guess, as it felt almost impossible not to bounce with anxiety, or clutch the boyfriend’s arm with my sweaty fingers. Impossible not to join in on those communal gasps and screams and the inevitable laughter that comes immediately after.

The funny thing is, even though I went into it feeling very nostalgic for my teenage years, my “Cindy” years-–kids were everywhere, so young and vibrant it should be a crime–I was also sort of annoyed by the girls, so giddy with anticipation, so eager to willingly surrender to the fear. Pull it together ladies, I thought, glancing at the chain of five girls shrinking into a single lopsided unit, crawling on top of each other during the horror previews. They are previews for god’s sake, save some for later!

But I’m glad they didn’t. They are right, that is, what it is all about. Without feeding off each other it couldn’t possibly be as good.

I should have thanked them.

 

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Warning: This is the first personal blog post I’ve written since Myspace

Been sniffing around the web to find any inklings of an Orange County literary scene. There is so little happening here for writers and I’ve been thinking about what to do about it or whether to do anything. Mostly I find “meet-ups” and self-promoting authors disguised as community, you know selfie-publishers trying to find readers or established writers trying to sell aspiring folks on programs and retreats.

I just graduated from UCR with my MFA a few months ago and I find myself stalled in the intersection of this giant crossroads where I keep thinking about what I really want and where to focus and then I change my mind. I think people in my peer group are not supposed linger here this long. Then again “supposed to” is elusive. I guess what I mean is that most of my friends from undergrad just seem to have a better hold on things. They seem productive. Committed to things. You know, 401Ks and engagement rings. Babies and life insurance. Tattoos and sobriety.

Several ideas have come and gone.

One was to put together an anthology of student work from the last few years of graduates from my school, I thought it would be good editing experience and a nice crash course in self-publishing and indy marketing.

Another idea was to do a reading event that was sort of a showdown between different MFA programs in the area, like a big contest where the prize was getting the opportunity to read at a big related event. A utopian vision, I know.

That idea seemed good mostly because overall I think more community and less competition would be better for all the programs in the end. But then I was like who am to pursue these projects? It seems like it should be someone on the schools faculty or something right?

At least those ideas were specific, they at least had tangible beginnings, middles and ends. The craziest idea–or not that crazy but just the most unrealistic–was to start a website which only reviewed female authors in an effort to make-up for the absurd gender gap in mainstream book reviews that’s forever sweeping the nation. We even talked to Gina Frangello (TNB & The Rumpus contributing editor) about the idea and got a much appreciated reality check about the level of work and commitment and time it would have taken. I think her words were “I mean is it REALLY worth it? REALLY! Girl I don’t know” I’m probably misquoting her but that’s what it felt like. I mean we weren’t completely ignorant or incapable of making it work, I afterall had Hipster Book Club creator Yennie Chung on my side (chick knows how to get shit done). We could have tried.

Now, notice how all of these big ideas have nothing to do with writing at all?

Yes, before pulling the trigger on any of these ideas, I have always managed to talk myself back into finishing my book. Back into facing the anti-social cave that is my writing hole, that dungeon where words actually coalesce into pages.  Just focus on the book. Just focus on one story. One rewrite. X amount of words per day. But then the intrusive robot voice returns: You need to submit to journals. You need publications for bio. You need blog. Look at her, her blog it is awesome. Your website does not exist. Nobody likes you on the Facebook.

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Get it? I’m “wrestling” with this stuff. He’s pink! I’m a girl it’s perfectly funny.

I’m scared to death that I’m going to wake up in five years and have done absolutely nothing. That is, nothing but effing navel gazing like this freaking post. Then have kids (at the very last second before that window closes) and completely regret squandering such an  abundant, unapprieciated, amount of time. I mean if I can’t get it together now, how the hell is it supposed to work when I am responsible for other real life HUMAN BEINGS. I know women who can strike that balance and have it all, but I also know that I am probably not one of them. God Bless them though. Seriously. Sincerely.

I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to queue the epiphany.

Where I’m supposed to tell myself to be grateful or keep on trucking or “don’t worry everyone feels like that after their MFA.” But I don’t want to go there, it too trite, all those pep talks….

Instead I think I want to stay scared of failing, stay mad at myself for not doing enough, because in the long run I think those instincts are what can make you survive, force you to face the lazy bastard within that wants to play Plants Vs. Zombies II all day and avoid life itself.

So yeah, I’m going to start blogging again. I think.