Monthly Archives: April 2006

Pretty Love and Hate Machine

I’ve been making paper mosaics. Much like my harmonica and sculpting and origami, I’m completely immersed in it and it’s all I want to do. I don’t want to stop until I make one for everybody.

I didn’t know there was an actual method to it; I just wanted more art for my walls and I had the idea to turn my journal into something else. When I started researching the best way to do it, it turns out there was a whole craft industry dedicated to paper mosaics. There’s texture gel that looks like grout, and Dimensional Magic to make the paper looks like glass. I suppose the only thing that makes my mine unique is the work that went into my scraps of paper.

Okay, so I tried to avoid reading Sid when I cut it up, but considering the fact that I’m a speed reader, plus how much that shit is imbedded in my brain, glancing at those pages means I basically reread 3 years of my journal in one sitting.

The reason I haven’t touched those books in so long was that I thought they’d just bum me out.

The strange thing is, the parts that I had assumed to be the happiest turned out to be the saddest, and the parts where I remember being upset turned out to be the most fulfilling. It’s kind of like “Footprints”, except instead of hanging with Jesus, I just partied and went out a lot.

Reading the parts about him (my ex, not Jesus) reminded me of reading all those entries about Travis and Timmy years ago – it made me so mad at myself because I just kept writing the same shit over and over without realizing it. I was fucking miserable that whole time. There was so much doubt and confusion and so many promises up in the air. It was just this helter skelter of emotion that practically broke me, because I was depending on him for emotions and strength that I was damn well capable of summoning on my own.

By the time I got to his giant kiss-off letter (the one where he swore he was living in Europe forever and never coming back – that he wrote a month before he moved home and begged me to take him back) I just started laughing. I mean, his convictions will always be capricious despite his insistence of sincerity, and I can’t believe it took me that long to see him for what he really is.

It’s fun and easy and perfectly fine to pick up a hobby, drop it, and pick up another right away. I have drawers full of paint and origami paper and harmonicas and clay. I can revisit them all the time, pick and choose what I love when I please, and it doesn’t affect anybody or break anyone’s heart.

It’s a lot more difficult to do that with careers and life-changing ambitions, and it’s an evil thing to do with people you supposedly love. And after reading over everything, I realized that’s what I was to him – this little piece of clay that he kept pushing back and forth, attempting to shape me into what he wanted. He kept trying to make me fit into whatever whim or fancy he was living out at the time, or he’d shove me in that drawer and save me for the next one. Reading about it made me realize that it’s absolutely impossible to be happy in that situation.

It also made me see that the best memories I had were the ones he wasn’t even a part of at all… I had so much fun reading about the moments in between, like getting to know all of my new friends and the countless concerts, parties, conversations, kisses, changes, and revelations that have happened over the past few years.

I couldn’t really become the person I am now until I was taken out of that drawer for good. I was not only shaped by something better, but left alone to settle and truly take form, both permanently and positively.

And those memories and that time in my life are kind of the same way… if I had left them in that drawer to collect dust, or taken them out momentarily to quench some kind of mood… they wouldn’t have been able to take shape so that I could see them for what they really are.

He can have his drawer of dreams and emotions and people and not-so-lovely lady lumps of clay. Maybe someday he’ll realize that nothing tangible can come from that arsenal until he takes it out and actually makes it real.

I’ll try to post real pictures of the mosaics someday. But I’m not trying to hype them up – they’re not masterpieces; they’re just cute and fun to make, and I like the significance behind them.

The biggest thing I learned from all of this is that it’s always possible to turn something ugly into something beautiful. All it takes is some time, some rearranging, and mixing it up with new things that you’ve picked up along the way. It’s messy and time consuming, but very much worth the effort.

P.S. Speaking of hype, I finally checked out the infamous band… . have you guys ever seen that episode of “Undeclared” where Marshall sings at the Talent Show? It sounds like that.

P.P.S. The only way I could make this entry more emo is by saying I mixed my watercolors with tears. I didn’t, but how awesome would that have been?

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Take Another Little Piece of My Heart… And Paint It With Watercolors

So, I chopped up Sid.

For those of you who don’t know, Sid was my journal. I’ve had him for ten years, and he was twelve books and over 3,000 pages long.

I can hear some of my friends screaming in horror right now, but don’t worry, I didn’t chop up the whole thing. There are a few years that are, shall we say, hazy, to some of my friends, and they depend on Sid to relive those memories that they don’t remember living in the first place.

Since I’ve had this journal for about as long as I’ve known most of my friends, they also rely on it to settle arguments with each other, like it’s the world’s most obscure court transcript or something:

“No, YOU SAID – (ahem) Stephie, can you go get Sid, please?”

Those will get chopped up eventually. I’m trying to keep the teenager ones around as long as possible to prepare myself for raising one. Instead of wondering why they’re so crazy, I can just flip through and be like, “Oh… right.” But it will be destroyed before it becomes Leverage.

SID doesn’t stand for anything. I started writing it the same week I discovered the Sex Pistols, so I guess I thought I was being bad-ass in that My So-Called Life kind of way. Or whatever. Liz swears up and down that it stands for “Stephanie’s Intimate Diaries”, which totally grosses me out. “Intimate” is one of those words that makes me feel uncomfortable and yicky, like “Moist”.

I didn’t really chop it up for any ceremonial reason… I had an idea for an art project that required little bits of paper, and at the same time, I was getting really sick of these books lying around that I never wanted to read again. So it was kind of a chicken-and-the-egg decision.

It was a really weird process skimming those pages and cutting them up. I was on the phone catching up with Kyle and TSGoC for most of it, so I was too preoccupied to try and turn it into any emotional touchstone or cleansing or whatever. It was just paper. A lot of it.

However, I DID end up realizing and learning a lot of things – whether I wanted to or not. I’ll write about that next time.

And it’s funny – I’ll reach in and grab one – this tiny scrap of paper with little sentence fragments all out of order – and I’ll spot one name or a combination of words and I’ll know exactly where it’s from. I can immediately see that entry in my head: where I was in my life when I wrote it, who it’s about, things that happened before and after, and sometimes I’ll even remember the exact moment I sat down to write it.

So it’s not like I’m throwing those memories away… they’ve always been there, and I suppose they always will be. They’re just getting put to good use, is all.

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Yay Yay Yay!

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs show last night was, quite possibly, the greatest thing I’ve ever seen*.

If Freddie Mercury and Pat Benatar** had a threesome with a peacock and then they had a baby, that would be Karen O.

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when you have to give a PowerPoint presentation with a bar stamp on your hand.

I don’t care. It was worth it.

I saw Karen O breathe fire, y’all.

* The greatest thing besides the Ethan vs. Kendra Wiffleball Smackdown of 1998, of course.

** I would have said Joan Jett but she was wearing a sequinsed leotard, and well, we all know how I feel about that.

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Watch Him While He Checks Up On It

Note to self: Never attempt to compose a Maid-of-Honor speech while possibly PMSing. You think crying about long-distance commercials on TV is bad? Not even close. I wrote for about five minutes before I was like, “Nuh uh. This will have to wait for some other day.”

Especially if it’s a speech about the only person I like shopping with, the only friend who can do my hair, and the only girl besides Pamie who’s allowed to hold my hand and drag me to the bathroom to gossip. Basically, Liz brings out the super-girly side in me. Didn’t know I had one, didja?

Girly-ness leads to shit like blogging about PMS and sentimental tears. I need to figure out a way to say how much I love her without running the risk of crying while holding a microphone. I’d practice on you guys, but I need to save my best material.

~~~*~~~

I would tell you about Wedding Planning Day, but that was really girly. So I’ll just tell you about the night we went clubbing til 3 in the morning:

Liz’s Fiancé is a Jersey boy (or I guess I should say Jersey MAN), which makes me automatically like him. My friends and I were hunting through our purses for the cover charge when Andy5 asked the bouncer, “Where you from, brah?” Turns out he was from Jersey too, so we got in for free AND a hook up at the bar.

Andy5 told me that the club was cool. “It’s where guys from Jersey and New York go so we don’t have to deal with douchebag guys from Florida.” I laughed and said, “Right on.” Then I noticed the “special” room in the back and the extra pole next to the bar. It’s nice to know that they’re equipped for a ho-down. Oh, Jersey.

Kelly and I cried laughing later, when one chick practically fell off the stage trying to be Shakira.

I got hit on all night by a guy named Johnny. He was really nice, but he kept appearing right next to me, proclaiming, “Giiiiiirl, I’m gonna show you what Florida’s ALL ABOUT.”

It got old after about the 20th time, so when I felt him breathing down my neck again, I turned to him and said, “Let me guess. You’re gonna show me what Florida’s all about, right?”

“No,” he pouted, “I just want to smell your hair.” Wow.

There was a birthday girl with a light-up feather tiara, and Liz (a.k.a. The Bride) narrowed her eyes and decided that the crown was rightfully hers. We waited until Birthday Girl passed out and got carried to the back, and then YOINK! It was on.

Eventually Johnny stole it. Then I had to deal with this for about an hour:

Jen told me she likes this picture because of the wide range of human emotion. Andy5 is either trying to protect me or get to the ashtray. I think a Sean Paul song was playing when this picture was taken, which only adds to my look of amusement/sheer terror*.

Later everyone tried to make me dance, and when I refused they sent Johnny over. He tried to do some “sexy dance” with the light-up tiara and accidentally broke it in half. Then he threw the feather part around my neck and held both sides, pulling it back and forth like he was Mae West or something. And then I ran away and everyone grabbed me and threw me on the dance floor. Johnny is like tear gas, except he has a mustache.

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The Write Stuff

I have a lot of stories about why I became a writer, like one involving my encouraging second grade teacher, and one from when I got called to the counselor’s office in seventh grade. Guess which one I’m going to tell you?

I used to write awesome crap-poetry all of the time. I’d show my poems to my junior high cafeteria posse, and they seemed to really like passing them around while we talked about our feelings or whatever. I was really shy, but those friends were part of the select tribe of people who knew that I was funny, so when no one else was around I’d tell them jokes and they’d laugh. They asked me to write a short story about them, so I did.

In the story I made all of my friends superheroes, and based their powers on inside jokes or things that they had done… like one time at a slumber party, Michelle jumped down an entire flight of stairs without hurting herself, so her power was that she could jump from buildings and squish people. Christina did karate, so she could kick. Liz could eat an entire army and their weapons (this one is not a huge stretch because Liz has the most superhuman metabolism I’ve ever seen).

But here’s the thing: we needed an enemy.

Our friend Kelly had recently befriended this girl named Brianne. We all thought Brianne, sucked so we were against this from the beginning. But like a lot of junior high girl who discover new friends, she started copying off of Brianne. Her clothes, her attitude, everything – she had turned into a clone. As you all know, “copying” is the cardinal sin of junior high girls so we were absolutely livid about this development.

Brianne had created a monster, so I figured this was the perfect antagonist for my story – I made Brianne a mad scientist (named “Dr. Brianne”), who built a giant robot (named “Kelly”) to aid her in an evil quest to steal all of our boyfriends.

The final battle involved Liz eating a bunch of lunches (again, the euge) and we used the trays to build a giant flight of stairs for Michelle to jump off and squish the robot. I guess you kind of had to be at the slumber party to understand, but that jump was incredible. She went on to become a varsity cheerleader. Anyway…

My big mistake, I think, was that I kept their original names. That and I gave the enemies a bunch of horrible attributes, like acne and a clubfoot or something Twelve like that.

I passed it out to all of my friends. They laughed. They cried. They cried laughing. Then they passed it around to all of their friends.

Then THEY passed it out to all of THEIR friends. And so on and so on, until one day someone passed it to Kelly.

Next thing you know, I’m sitting in Social Studies and my name gets called over the intercom, demanding that I report to the counselor’s office ASAP.

Kelly was really upset about the story, and to be honest looking back I feel like a dick because Kelly is really awesome when she isn’t being Brianne. But at the time, I think I just felt misunderstood because I really hadn’t intended for her to be the target. I squirmed and glared and daydreamed for an hour, while we discussed friendship and tolerance and appropriate topics to write about.

At the end of the meeting, Kelly and I hugged and did some fake “call me” stuff, and the counselor opened the door for us to leave. Kelly cast me a glare and headed back to class, but just as I was leaving the counselor grabbed me and pulled me back into the room.

“You know,” she said, checking outside the door to make sure no one could hear, “you shouldn’t use real names when you write stories like this. It can get you in trouble.”

“But,” she continued, with twinkling eyes and a secretive smile, holding my story between us, “This is really, really good.”

I looked at her suspiciously, wondering why she was telling me this… we had, after all, made so much “progress” just moments ago.

“I mean, the dialogue is smart, the story is interesting and original, and… and it’s funny. It’s really funny! Are these your friends?” She asked, pointing to my detailed illustrations.

I nodded.

She laughed, clapped her hand over her mouth, then handed my masterpiece back to me. “Well, it’s okay to write about your friends if it’s something nice and fun… and I want you to keep writing, okay? Promise you’ll keep writing? Just… be a little more careful about what it is and who sees it from now on.”

I’m sure a lot of people have felt the same way I did when I realized that I had that kind of power: I had spent so many years in an inhibited state that this response was thrilling and a little scary, like the first time you say “fuck” when you’re a kid and everyone around you gasps. It just makes you want to do it again, only louder.

I left her office with my head held a little higher. I walked down the hall with a brand new swagger, clutching my work in my hand a little harder than I used to.

I was GOOD. I was INTERESTING. And, most importantly, I was CONTROVERSIAL.

That conversation inspired me to sign up for eighth grade journalism… I ended up becoming the feature editor of the school paper. Later, our teacher handpicked me to be the editor-in-chief of the literary magazine. Out of everything I accomplished during those years of my life, the lit magazine is what I’m most proud of.

I did write a sequel to the story with fake names, but it totally blew. Isn’t that always the case?

I suppose that was my first real lesson about writing… and here I am today, writing for a living and writing for fun, and getting louder and louder every time.

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