Monday, December 27, 2010

Take Your Pants Off / And Make it Happen

The prompt for Reverb10 was: "what is the wisest thing you did this year?"

Considering this resulted from my own foolish decision to take the fucking job in the first place, I'm really not sure this can qualify, but the wisest thing I did all year was to quit my job. I had been out of work for almost a year - on a kind of sabbatical, sort of, if losing it and going on indefinite leave counts as a sabbatical - and had decided to take another PR agency job to pay the bills while I figured out a real plan for what was next. I knew from the get go that it wasn't an ideal job. It was a rung or so below the last agency job I'd held, and at a smaller, less prestigious agency, and I was making considerably less money. But I was worried I wasn't going to employable anymore if I didn't get back to work, and I knew it was a job I could do, so I took it with the full intention of phoning it in. 

It was fine at first - we had clients, and they were sort of low maintenance and dumb enough to not require any real effort. We had a couple of actually interesting clients in the pipeline. But my boss, whoa-hoh, my boss. I knew going in that he was a Manhattan Beach frat boy/permanent child type who was a douche and sort of a joke, but his stated goal was sales, and the deal we struck was that I would lead all the account work, and he'd stick to administrative functions and new business development. This was fine with me because I don't particularly like sales, and anyway, I knew he'd be easy to manipulate.

What I didn't know was what an epic clown this guy turned out to be. First of all, I discovered he had a ridiculous nickname that I can't put in here, but that was along the lines of something like "Skip" or "Styles" - pure California cheese. And then there was his irritating habit of listening to bad 80s music on Pandora. All day, every day, if we let him get away with it. It was a small office, maybe 15' x 8', and if we didn't have music playing it was too weirdly quiet to work comfortably, so every day was a race to get good music on first before he could come soil us with Mister Mister and the like. Which he hated, but, to his credit, tolerated, because he was a good enough guy that he genuinely wanted to be a good boss and let the underlings have it their way. One time I had on Radiohead and he exploded with frenzied laughter that suggested he'd been biting his tongue all morning and said, "Jesus, do you just want to kill yourself, or what?" The answer to that question was debatable, given that remark, but my co-worker and I laughed it off. 

Anyway, that kind of idiocy was readily apparent in his work style too. He was embarrassing to me in his transparency - not knowing what he was doing, he pretty much never had any actual good advice for clients - and mostly he wanted to talk about partying and getting drunk. (He is 39.) One day I was at a client lunch and all he could talk about was how awesome his old client's party at E3, a videogame tradeshow, was, and how they spent a million dollars on an event that contained strippers dancing around a pole. He also once told a female colleague to never use the word "swallow" in an email, because no man would ever be able to take it seriously. (!)

But I think the true breaking point for me was when we were working one morning and the song "What a Feeling" by Irene Cara came on the radio. It was 8:30 am on a Tuesday, and none of us were in a good mood. He started singing, and then stopped to tell us about a lyric he'd misinterpreted. "Guys," he said, addressing me and my 28 year old female colleague and our very naive 19 year old female intern, "when I was little, I used to think the part where she says 'take your passion/and make it happen' was 'take your pants off/and make it happen!! Isn't that hilarious?!!"

That was pretty much when I knew I would no longer be able to work for that agency. I quit within a couple of weeks, and since have landed a couple of freelance gigs that pay OK and are keeping me going for now. Next month, who knows, but I'm still getting by. 

Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I did not see something nasty in the woodshed, but I did see a wood chipper in action

I'm staying at my parents' house in suburban Atlanta for the holidays. They live in a 70s colonial-style house on the north side of Atlanta that is very typical for this era and area, brick with white shutters on the windows, all neutral colors and knick knacks and throw blankets.

This morning I awoke to massive thudding noises that sounded like an earthquake or signs of the apocalypse, but really it was just the sounds of massive logs hitting the ground and being fed to a wood chipper. I looked the window and there were tree trimming creatures from north Georgia all swarming the yard - Carhartts and cigarettes and beards and desert camouflage in full effect. My dad called my cell and told me to come see this guy wielding a chainsaw 60 feet up with one arm, cutting off tree branches that weighed 500 pounds. 

So I went down with coffee to watch - this is as good as any entertainment suburban Georgia affords - and my thought process went something like this. 

A wood chipper, huh?

Wood chippers are often kept in a woodshed. 

Woodsheds are places where sometimes you can find hedgehogs.

And then I went back inside for another cup of coffee. The internet has addled my brain. 

Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Letting Go of Being a Hater - Is it Possible?

My mother never said "if you can't say something nice, don't say it at all." 
Mostly my mother talked tremendous amounts of shit about everyone, even (especially?) family members when they weren't around. Opinions on behavior, parenting skills, choice of pastimes, company kept, footwear, hair color, eating habits, spending habits, and on and on. Everything and everyone was game. Still is, in fact. I can't have a conversation with her, or my dad for that matter, without it turning to the judging of others. 
On the one hand, it's fun. It's interesting to hear their takes on other people, especially if you agree with the assessments. On the other hand, it's brutal. You can imagine yourself being similarly verbally abused in conversations with other siblings. I used to engage in it, but I find the older I get, I can't. It has the effect of shutting me down.
Not that this stops me from being a hater in my own right - it's pretty deeply ingrained. So often when I feel compelled to write (or tweet, which is sort of embarrassing, this compulsion I have to tweet, but that's for another post), it's to vent about something that pisses me off. And this bothers me. It bothers me that what bubbles up most often in my consciousness is venom. It's directed at everyone - myself, my co-workers, Facebook people, people I follow on Twitter (sorry), musicians, celebrities, politicians, basically anyone I feel is being a loser at any time. 
I'm trying very hard to let go of these thoughts, but how do you stop your natural response to something? If you let it fester, it sticks around. It festers. But then if you talk about it, you're spewing negativity. And what do I know anyway? Who am I to judge anyone? It's a fucked up cycle and I'm trying to leave it behind, but it's not easy. I'm working on it.
And if you have any suggestions for how to cure this cancer, please let me know. 
p.s. This was written in response to this prompt for #Reverb10
p.p.s. On the non-hating side of things, I really love the vocal harmonies in this song. It's sung by sisters.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Enemy is Within

Today for Reverb10 I'm supposed to blog about one thing I do every day that doesn't contribute to my writing. This topic annoyed me, at least in the way it was written. Fuck, there are a ton of things I do every day that don't contribute to my writing. Eating, sleeping, showering, cooking, exercising, working for a living, answering the phone, answering emails, I don't know. Come on. 

But OK, fine, the biggest reason I don't write everyday is because I am deeply conflicted. I'm conflicted about why I write, and why I want to write. I'm conflicted about what I want to write about, because a lot of the time it seems silly and I can't imagine why anyone would care to read it. I'm conflicted about being really, truly honest about what I feel, because some of that is so shot through with anger that it kind of scares me. I'm conflicted because I sometimes don't know if I have the balls to write, and then I come back to asking myself why I even want to in the first place, and whether it's worth it. It's a compulsion, I think, but it's blocked and complex and under so many layers of neuroses and defenses and coping mechanisms and plain old self-doubt that it sometimes seems ridiculous to even try. It's a combination of factors that shuts me down on a lot of days. 

So I'm trying to work through that. Just not worry about all those things and write anyway and see what happens. It's a process.

p.s. The title of the post is a lyric from an Elliott Smith song, "Stupidity Tries" - a great song about inner conflict.




Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Describing 2010 in one word


The word is flux. I didn't encapsulate last year in one word, but it would likely have been "upheaval". This year had its own share of ups and downs, but last year - leaving my job without really having a backup plan, taking an extended period of time off, breaking up with the guy I'd been dating, going through tons of therapy to try to get my shit together - was the watershed moment.

This year was a year of constant change. Travel - two trips comprising four weeks in Atlanta, a trip to Japan, a trip to Kentucky, a trip to NYC, a trip to Portland. Work - starting a business with a good friend, taking a screenwriting course and doing some exploration of film/tv writing as a potential career, taking a job in PR and quitting it in less than six weeks when it turned out to be a shit show, eventually grabbing some good freelance PR gigs and exploring broader media consulting. Home - moving apartments, getting a roommate again, making a huge (and still tentative) decision to move back across the country. Dating - dating a pretty fair amount (exhausting enough in its own right).

All of it's just been about trying to keep trying things, hoping that something will feel right and lead to a path I feel good about pursuing. And I am making progress - no on the screenwriting front, thank you - but it's actually really scary to be constantly in flux. I haven't been able to say for sure where I'll be more than a few weeks out in a long time. Sometimes I love that - it's exciting, it's liberating, it feels great to be free - but then sometimes all those options being up in the air completely paralyze me. So much on the table, so much that can be changed, so little in my life that is truly permanent. It's exhausting. 

So I hope that next year is the year things start to be less all over the place and more about digging my heels in, in one way or another. I hope next year's word is "settling". Because I'm ready. Maybe for the first time ever. I need some stability.

p.s. By the way, I am doing #Reverb10, which is, in their words "an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next." It will require me to post once a day for the entire month of December. Sounds a little new age-y, maybe, but I'm a little new age-y, and I had actually set out to do this in November, but only eeked out 11 posts. My most prolific month ever, but well short of my goal. And the Reverb people will send me prompts! Yay prompts!

p.p.s Speaking of Flux, the guy who writes Fluxblog, the oldest mp3 blog on the Internets (or so he claims - and it actually was the first one I started reading, round about 2004), just posted an amazing 10.5 hour mix of his favorite songs from 2010. ROCK. 

p.p.p.s. I use a lot of parentheticals. Is this annoying?


Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is Hollywood sending us subliminal colon-related messages?

Just sayin'.

p.s. While searching for colon images, came across this


Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Coming Out of the Closet

I get a daily email newsletter from Stephen Elliott, the editor of The Rumpus. Ostensibly it's a newsletter to promote the site, which is billed as a site on culture, but mostly it's a daily email about whatever is on his mind at the time, and it usually contains links to articles on the site as sort of an afterthought. This might make it sound like I don't like the newsletter, but I actually find it fascinating, definitely more so than if it were just a collection of links. It's written in first person, and it often references conversations he's had with his friends, things they've said, small domestic scenes with women he dates, snippets about his life on the streets as a homeless teen. 

I've never met Stephen Elliott, but I feel like I know him a little. I wish he would put the newsletter in blog form, because I'd like to link to some of the things he says in my own blog posts. Here's something he said recently that I liked: 

"But I was thinking about stories. I'd talked to a class and they asked if I was comfortable with so much personal information about myself out in the public sphere. I talked about writing as a process of coming out of a closet. You come out of one closet, there's another closet waiting for you. And then, you move through old topics easily, ideas and experiences that you've already unpacked, as you struggle through current binds. But you don't write as if you're still in that closet, exploiting stories based on previous success. You have to look forward, into the dark."

This spoke to me because one of the things I'm having trouble with in terms of blogging - one of the reasons I don't update as often as I'd like to - is that I'm having a hard time coming to terms with 1) why I would want to do so, when I really do value my privacy, 2) how much to say given I'm not really anonymous and 3) why anyone would care. I have no answer to any of these questions. I'm not sure I even have a story, but I do know I have a lot of thoughts that seem to want to be let out, whether it's via talking, or Twitter, or Facebook, or blogging, or whatever, so here I am, continuing to blog. I guess like Stephen said I'm coming out of my own closet through writing. It's an entirely selfish act, but necessary, I guess. 

Also, a further note on malaise: "It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth comes to the top" -- Virginia Woolf

I'm taking that as a flat out endorsement.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Malaise Happens

Maybe it's the lull before the holidays. Maybe it's the reality of my upcoming move and some kind of block against it happening that my subconscious has constructed. Or maybe it's fatigue from this nearly year and a half long period of career limbo I've been in taking its toll. Whatever the case, I've been having some long days lately. I believe the feeling is called malaise. It's a strange feeling because in my case, it's part lack of inspiration and part paralysis - but not exactly boredom, and never a lack of things I need to do. And not even really a lack of things I want to do.

I think it's just that I'm just not one of those people who are excited to hop of out of bed every day. Tammy Pajamas is an early riser and once told me she often has the feeling of not wanting to miss anything. I don't have that. I used to have it as a child or maybe sometimes during vacations, but generally I feel like the world will wait for me, for when I'm good and ready to face it. I guess I'm an egotist in that respect. You could argue that this is the sign of a depressed person, but I'm not actually depressed. (And I know depression.) I'm just sort of nonplussed at the moment. It'll pass. It always does. And I'll keep being interested in all the things I'm interested in, and loving all the people I love, and getting fucking pissed off a few times a day on average. But for now I'm just all "meh". Nothing else to it.

When I was working full time, malaise would strike fairly often. The title of that song by Camper Van Beethoven, "The Humid Press of Days", would run through my head. I wouldn't really think of the actual song (it's not a very good song), just the title. It kind of said everything. My freelance lifestyle has a little bit of it too, though - I may not work in an office, but I still wake up around the same time, make the coffee, go to my desk, work on PR type stuff, look out the same window, watch the mailman walk into the courtyard to deliver the mail around 11:00, make lunch at noonish, etc. Same same. I work out in the middle of the day more often now, but overall, it's same same. But a little different.

I guess what I'm concluding here is that I don't think having a different job will ever really change things too much. This is something about me - I tend to lose interest easily. But luckily I get re-interested too. I just have to remind myself of that before I freak out about the malaise when it sets in, because sometimes I panic and convince myself it's here to stay.

Kind of sucks, but eh, it's actually not that bad. It's definitely not as bad as depression, or outrage. It just is.

p.s. The guy who designed this game clearly has faced the malaise.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bloggin' Ain't Shit but Bitches and Money

No, not really. In fact, anything but.

Mostly I'm slightly drunk and haven't posted in a few days due to 1) overthinking, 2) stress and 3) lack of discipline. 

But I did watch a good TED video today about the connection between the willingness to be vulnerable and the capacity for joy. 

And there was also a new column today from Dear Sugar, also known as the best advice column I have ever read. 

There's a connection here, and that is honesty. Both stress the importance of being honest, and how it can redeem you. 

More on this later. 



Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Monday, November 8, 2010

In Which I Recommend Zadie Smith Expand her Internet Horizons

OK, Zadie Smith. We all get it. You’re gorgeous and preternaturally talented, you already, at 35, have a literary career that is the envy of anyone who’s even contemplated picking up a pen (or tapping a keyboard) and you’ve been teaching at Harvard for years, years when most of us (OK fine, me) were mostly spending our free time talking shit with our friends over our beverage of choice.

But you know what you suck at? The Internet.

I came across your piece for the NYTRB last Friday on Twitter, but got bored about halfway through and abandoned it, at least until I came across two prompts to give it another shot. So I soldiered though, and...huh?

Zadie, don’t you know about the Internet? It’s huge. It’s really not just Facebook -- Facebook is just a jumping off point. Facebook long ago ceased being a place where you can find actual honest opinions and interesting dialogue. Oh sure, they’re trying desperately to make it safe for us all to fly our freak flags, what with the Groups and all, but I just don’t think we’ll be so easily misled.

Zadie, when you quit Facebook, you threw the proverbial baby out with bathwater. You ask, “Is it possible that what is communicated between people online “eventually becomes their truth”?” But to ask that assumes that people are only communicating online via Facebook.

Zadie, haven’t you ever watched To Catch a Predator? Don’t you think the guys they’re apprehending by the dozen post the same “falsely jolly, fake-friendly, self-promoting, slickly disingenuous” Facebook status updates as everyone else? Fine, that’s a really dark example - you could just as easily point to people participating in forums for recovering alcoholics or sufferers of incontinence or hell, even people doing online dating - but the point is that people still do plenty of things online and off that they don’t necessarily want to advertise to 400 acquaintances and Great Aunt Dorothy.

To assume that just because we’re putting on a happy face on Facebook we’re not indulging in our passions, urges and fantasies (twisted and morally reprehensible though they may be) is just silly. Seriously, what else is the Internet good for if not giving people the immediate ability to explore any interest they could ever possibly have, and to connect with others who share that interest, or at least to read their thoughts about it? Facebook is one place to do that, but it’s by no means the only place.

The pack mentality is alive and well on Facebook, it’s true, but it’s also alive and well in real life, and until that evolves, it seems crazily naive to assume that a web utility will be responsible for its perpetuation. If anything, Facebook is the phone book of our generation - it has just enough information to make it possible to contact us, but in the end it says very little about who we really are. It might stick around a while because it is useful, but I promise, it's not going to keep people from being who they are.

Let me know if you need help finding some other places where you can really be yourself online, Zadie. They’re out there.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Which Liz Phair Speaks for Me (Still)

Two old Liz Phair songs have been floating around my head a lot lately: "Go West," which I did, when I left NY for LA almost six years ago, and "California," her farewell to the Golden State.

In "Go West", the lyric "And it feels like I've got something to prove / But in some ways it's just something to do" couldn't be more apt for what I was doing when I came out here. There just wasn't much more to it. I wish I had known then what I was trying to prove - I'm still not sure, truthfully - but mostly I just wasn't ready to go back to Atlanta. 

"California," on the other hand, doesn't say much at all. And while my departure isn't as much about defeat and sadness (I may well have said that about NYC when I left), as it is just generally about it being time, I love how she captured so much emotion with so few lyrics. 

I bought Exile in Guyville when it came out, when I was a senior in high school, and then later dug into the songs she recorded as Girly Sounds through the Juvenilia EP. I haven't listened to her music a ton since then, but my teenage self burned all those lyrics into my brain, and I can still sing pretty much everything she recorded in the 90s from top to bottom without pausing. Her depressive, alternately cocky, self-destructive, and alienated ethos spoke to me more than any other artist I'd ever even heard then, and more than most have since.

So I guess I'll keep letting her speak for me until I can say things better myself.

p.s. Recently came across this piece about what she's up to now. Loved this quote: "Her brand of feminism is simple: “All you have to do is live your life with some pride and some honesty, and you’re pushing it forward,” Phair said." Amen to that.


Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Leaving LA is Like Breaking Up with a Man I Still Love (But Can't Live With)

Last weekend I decided, for real this time, to leave Los Angeles.

It had been a long time coming. I moved here in the spring of 2005, and fell in love with it immediately. After NYC, where I'd spent the previous four years, it felt like freedom and light and light-heartedness embodied in one big, sprawling riot of a city. It scared me a little, but it didn't have the bite of New York. I couldn't feel the cruelty that had seeped into every cold subway ride and drunken cab ride home that I took in the last year of living there. The relentless sunshine and warm weather and open windows and loud music I blared in my car (shitbox though it was) seemed to wipe the chill from those old methods of transportation away in short order.

For the longest time I was in love with this city. Blue skies and sunshine, obviously, but also hikes redolent with sage that I could get to in 20 minutes. A total lack of humidity. Cheaper rent. Excellent tacos. And then there was the proximity of my two brothers and some old friends that I reconnected with and new friends I got to know pretty quickly. Plus it still had a lot of the flash and excitement of NYC, but without being as caustic in day to day life. It was altogether a relief, and a lot of fun.

And I'd say it stayed more or less good for the next five years, even despite some shitty jobs and a soul-destroying relationship I wandered in and out of during that time. I wanted to change many things about my life, but I was always relieved that I still liked LA, that it was one thing that was working and that I didn't have to worry about. I always knew it had problems. The traffic, obviously. The cost of living, and the likelihood that I would not be able to afford a home of my own, not for many many years. The fact that I missed my family, more and more since my brothers had started having kids I saw maybe twice a year.

And then one day I realized my heart was no longer in it. I went to a job interview, and the guy who was interviewing me, whom I really liked, said he wanted to hire someone who could be a cornerstone for the office, someone he could build a long term partnership with. And somewhere in my gut I knew that wasn't me, and that the reality was that I just didn't want to stay here. I couldn't commit.

So I guess you could say I fell out of love with LA. I can see why I loved it for a long time - I still do love it, for all the reasons listed above. But my heart no longer is here. I could stick around and it wouldn't be the worst thing, but I know that in the long term it's not what I want, and the longer I stay here the longer it'll be 'til I find a place I do feel good about settling down in.

So next stop, Atlanta, home of my people. Humid, green, gritty, pretty Atlanta.

Provided I can get off my ass and make the exodus happen.

California - it's pretty here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Women: We Really Are Fucking Nuts

I know I’m not supposed to say this because I support the causes of feminism and gender equality and on general principle of not giving men fuel for the “women be crazy” fire, but goddamn, I swear my brain ceases to function at certain times of the month. And not the ones you’re thinking of - really I would say this happens about a week before. Not every month, but most months.
It’s a strange thing. It’s not the crying, irrational kind of crazy, (though that happens sometimes too), but more like I suddenly cease to be able to do my job. It’s bewildering and incredibly frustrating. Out of nowhere I’ll find myself unable to perform tasks I complete on the regular, how to begin, what to say, what should be happening, etc. It’s like some switch in my brain flips, and where conviction and determination normally prevail, I am suddenly overcome with doubt, confusion and exasperation.

Example: Today I was supposed to put together a draft of a plan for my client, and even though I have written literally hundreds of plans exactly like it, I sat in front of my computer utterly incapable of putting down a word. Of course I procrastinated by looking at other web sites, reading the news, reading Twitter, checking Facebook, etc., but even those activities weren’t as compelling as they normally are. No matter what I tried, I simply couldn’t get absorbed in things.

Am I alone here, or does this happen to other women too? It’s a brain chemistry thing, pure and simple, that much I know is true. I’ll be back to usual tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Make Readers, Not War

Interesting article today by Laura Miller at, who argues that instead of devoting a month to encouraging writers - with the argument that those who are really and truly determined to write a novel will write it, in November or no - we should be doing more to encourage readers. While I essentially agree with Caroline Kellogg over at, who calls Miller's admonishment "smallhearted," I think Miller has a point. Writers gon' write. But what can we do to encourage readers? Is it even possible to do anything in our attention deficient age?

When I was a kid my (evil) brothers called me "Billie Jean Reads a Book" and "Bookworm" because my way of escaping was to bury myself in literature. But it was second nature to me - I don't know if it's part of my genetic makeup or what, but I just didn't need much nudging to pick up a paperback. I think some people do learn to enjoy it over time, but while I haven't done any actual research to confirm or deny this hunch, I have to assume that fewer kids are being introduced to the joys of long form prose. There are just too many youtube videos and blog posts (ahem) and video games to contend with. I'm not such a naysayer as to suppose that literature is dying - I think if anything, it's just evolving - but I do worry a little about it staying relevant. There's just too much beauty out there that I want others to see and love as much as I do.

So here's my suggestion - I think it's high time someone did a modern, virally equipped update to the "Books: Feed Your Head" campaign that ran in the 90s. Remember this video on MTV, which starred a foxy Sherilyn Fenn reading some naughty bits? It was good. It was memorable. It was compelling. It was sexy without being lewd. And it may even have made some people dig into Kafka and D.H. Lawrence. 

MTV, where you at? 



Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Good Cover is Worth...Well, a Lot

I came across a cover of AA Bondy's "Witness Blues" by Matt Vasquez, the lead singer of Delta Spirit, a band from San Diego that I like OK but haven't really given much thought to. I only discovered Bondy earlier this year, and his voice and music crept into my consciousness over time. His "American Hearts" record accompanied me to Japan, and I'll always associate it with the day I wandered through the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, which consists of thousands of vermillion torii lined up for visitors to walk through. Listening to a haunting piece of music in a haunted atmosphere made for a memorable day.

But back to the cover, since I'm probably one of the only people in the world who still listens to albums beginning to end, I missed "Witness Blues," or at least failed to appreciate it fully, because it’s the second to last song. And hearing Vasquez’s version gave me a whole new appreciation for the original.

How gorgeous is this lyric?
"Once you heard a choir while you were dreaming/and you wish you could remember it today"

Two things: 1) I like Vasquez much more now for choosing to cover a great song by an under appreciated artist, so I’ll probably give Delta Spirit another shot, and 2) I love it when a cover gives me a whole new appreciation for an old song in general. Wins all around.

MP3: A.A. Bondy, "Witness Blues"

Download now or listen on posterous
11_Witness_Blues.mp3 (3683 KB)

Monday, November 1, 2010

How not to fail at NaNoWriMo

Just decide not to do it. I'm not suggesting anyone follow my lead, but this is an easy way to get off on a technicality.

Writing a novel in the span of a month is an amazing feat, and a worthy endeavor, but I just don't think I'm ready. I attempted it, sort of, last year - realized it was happening a few days into the month, and since I wasn't working at the time, figured I should give it a shot. But then I waffled and I couldn't decide what to write about and the idea of writing 1000 words a day did my head in, so I abandoned ship. I had other things I was working on, head wise, and I didn't feel confident that I could commit to doing it without regularly beating myself up about not really doing it. It was a decision to be nice to myself, and patient.

Fast forward a year, and I'm taking another pass. My head is much better, but my obligations have increased. At the highest level, I'm trying to get my freelance career off the ground while orchestrating a cross country move, and I just know it's not gonna fit into my list of priorities. To say nothing of the fact that I still don't really know what my novel would be about.

So instead, I'm instituting a one blog post a day rule. This here's my stake in the ground. What should I call it? National Blogging Month? National Aspiring Writers Who Haven't Quite Gotten to the Noveling Stage but are Still Trying to Be Productive Month? Copout November? Whatevs.

One year, I will do NaNoWriMo. It's on the list.

Unrelated: Here's a great picture I took on a hike last month outside of Sun Valley, Idaho. It's not terribly indicative of the incredible scenery, but the light turned out pretty cool.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to have a total change of heart in 24 hours

Is it possible to have a total change of heart in 24 hours?

I did after I wrote that last post. I woke up the next day and thought, wait, I don't want to leave LA. I like it here still, despite many, many issues. There will probably be a time - a time in the not so distant future - when I am forced to leave for economic reasons, but that time is not here yet. And I have a life and friends and a great apartment and a whole professional network here that I am going to need to tap into if I want to make this next phase of my career work.

Big decisions are always like this for me. Usually what happens is that I start to feel like I need to make a change, and I convince myself I need to do something. (Like move to ATL, for example.) Then I ponder that for a while and come up with a whole list of reasons why it is imperative that I do that, and why it makes the most sense and is the best possible course of action, and so on and so on. And then, like a good girl, I zoom out and try to look at it from a holistic perspective and be as objective as possible about the whole thing, often even making a list of pros and cons for each side. It is during this point when I vacillate wildly between the two choices, and drive my friends nuts with declarations that change on an hour to hour basis. 

And ultimately, I arrive at a decision that is some combination of reason and gut feeling, and usually I just go with it and everything is fine. But then occasionally, like with this decision, I get a clear sign that I picked the wrong side and have to reverse course. In this instance I just woke up feeling completely differently even though I had resolved the matter and started making plans to pack up my apartment and sublease my room. Sometimes it's a little more dramatic, though. 

Case in point: when I was 28, I decided I'd had enough of New York, and I went back to my parents' house in ATL to figure out what was next. I was thinking of either staying there or moving to LA, and was looking for jobs in both places. Odds were totally against LA - although I had friends and family out there, I had very little money and no real job leads, as opposed to a whole mess of resources I had in ATL. It didn't make a whole lot of sense in strictly logical terms. I ended up getting an offer - a really good offer - from a PR firm in ATL one Friday, and told them I would get back to them on Monday. I spent the weekend going through the process detailed above, and landed on the decision to accept the job and stay in LA. I went to bed on Sunday night with the plan to wake up the next morning and call to accept the job. 

And then I woke up nauseous on Monday morning at the thought of staying in Atlanta. 

I left for LA the next week.

My new favorite cafe/dance studio - Paper or Plastik

Monday, August 30, 2010

10 O'Clock and All's Well

In the three months since I last posted, I got a job in PR, worked at it for approximately four weeks, and then resigned without a single regret. I'm currently working out my last week.

So much for going back to PR. It was a good idea in theory - get some money coming in, get health insurance, get back into the working world until I can figure out a way to work for myself full time - but the actual job I had was a disaster. Boss was a cretin (albeit a well-meaning one), underling appeared competent at first but was later discovered to (bizarrely) have no capacity for critical thought, clients were a disorganized and neglected mess, firm was overall just sort of cheap and JV. All in all, a total fail.

But I learned things. And one of the things that I learned was that I am really not sure I can go back to the corporate lifestyle for anything less than a stellar situation - I'm somewhere between incapable and just disinterested, and for me that is no way to live. Two weeks in I was buckling under the stress and trying to figure out how long I could last, and desperately looking forward to the weekend. Again, no way to live. So now I'm at the point where I'm preparing to take some pretty drastic measures to be able to go in a different direction for a while.

And it looks like my life in LA is on the chopping block.

Not that I don't like LA and my friends here, but the reality is I can't support myself financially with a reasonable degree of comfort while I go through this transition. And I'm pretty much unwilling to live again like a poor city urchin in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It's just too difficult, and I'm too old. Been there, done that.

So for now, the plan is to relocate to more affordable (and humid) climes. LA, I'll miss you and your golden light.


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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weird fishes

Yes, that's a Radiohead reference, and no, it has nothing to do with this post. At least not yet.

I'm in a weird spot. Here I am, nine months into my sabbatical, and I feel like I'm yet again at a crossroads. Because the reality is, I gotta go back to doing PR. At least for a while. Things with the start up are still chugging along, though we are really struggling with what our actual start up costs will be, as well as how much we even need to raise. We're dead set on creating this company, but despite all the things we have figured out, it's very confusing to try to figure out how to take the first steps. I hope this paralysis is temporary, but the phrase "it's all in the execution" is taking on even more meaning.

And in the meantime, I'm going kind of nuts. As constructive as I've tried to be with my time, and as much as I feel like I've gotten to do and see, I need to get back to work full time. And part of that is because I need to interact with other living humans during the day, something that is not really part of the work I'm doing on the startup. So I'm applying to a few things here and there, and luckily I can afford to be somewhat selective. At least for now.

But as much as I am angsty about going back to the profession for obvious reasons, I also wonder how much of my burnout was due to stress from other factors. Like the fact that I was depressed. And still mending from a broken heart. And just exhausted from trying to cope given both of those facts and a big job. I don't know what the answer will be. I guess I'll find out soon enough.



Posted via web from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What I Did on My Twitter Vacation

So, I took a break from Twitter for about three months, and inadvertantly took a break from Jane Donuts in general during that time. While I can't say I totally crushed it, I did get some shit done. Here are the highlights:

  • I went to Japan. My friend had a three day stay in Tokyo on her way back from China, and invited me to come keep her company while she decompressed from Guangzhou and did some shopping/trend research for her job as a product line manager for a big sportswear brand that rhymes with Likey. I obliged and spent a few days eatin, drinking, ogling, walking, butchering Japanese phrases, and shopping for truly amazing things in what is without question the most intense city I've ever visited. (Photo below is of my cohorts in Daikanyama, Tokyo.) Fascinating and so foreign, and absolutely amazing. I then went to stay with my cousin and his charming Japanese wife and two daughters in Kyoto, the former imperial capital. Another magical place full of Shinto shrines and Zen gardens and a palpable sense of a rich and exotic history, right up there with Paris and Florence. I would love to go back when it's not winter.
  • I took a great screenwriting workshop and made some pretty significant headway on my first script. After mapping out the entire thing and writing about half of it, I've fallen out of love with the concept, but will be playing around with it until I feel it's a little stronger. I now feel like I can and will actually complete something. Whether it will be something in any way viable is another story.
  • I found my new signature perfume, Lumiere Noire by Francis Kurkdjian. Sounds trivial maybe, but this is huge for me, as I don't ever feel truly dressed without the right scent. I've been looking for something for the last two years and have gone through at least five scents that, while lovely, were just not right. So now I found something that is the right mixture of sophisticated and delicious and unusual and it basically reminds me of the woman I aspire to be. I'm not wearing a lot of beautiful clothes these days, mostly living in jeans, leggings, t-shirts and cardigans, so this as a wardrobe addition is, as they say, pretty major.
  • I went to Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia. Saw my people. Played with lots of babies.
  • And, most importantly, I started a business with one of my oldest and smartest friends. More to come on this, but it's a line of clothing and accessories geared at musicians and their fans. And I am so excited about it! It makes perfect sense, it's a timely concept, and I think we can sell the shit out of it. This is what's taking up most of my time these days, and I couldn't be happier about it. Now I just gotta hustle and get some money for this thing.
  • I got kicked out of my apartment. Well, not literally, but I got my notice. 45 days and counting til I gotta move, and I'm annoyed but also excited. Onward and upward, I hope.

So, lots happening, and the total instability of my life continues. I didn't miss Twitter, I have to say. I did miss blogging. And I do enjoy shouting into the void, so here I am, back again.

Posted via web from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Which I tell a Story

My brother and I entered a short story contest through NYC Midnight, and I had a week to write a story of no more than 2,500 words in the genre of historical fiction. The assigned topic was "a dare." Here's what I came up with.


The Ball

Civility goes by the wayside when a normally reserved young woman runs into her erstwhile boyfriend's mother. 

Margaret woke up with a lump in her throat and a gnawing suspicion that she'd done something untoward the night before. She sat up with a start. Oh good heavens, she thought. It wasn't something she'd done, but something she'd promised to do.

She looked over at Pamela, still sleeping beside her, and wondered how on earth she would get through the day. Although Margaret was not generally given to impulsive behavior, she had a competitive streak a mile wide, and one that her mother often scolded her for indulging.

Unfortunately, when her cousin Fanny was concerned, Margaret usually couldn't resist.

"Pamela," Margaret said, nudging her sister. "Wake up. Wake up at once!"

"What?" Pamela stirred. A deep breath. "Is this pertaining to whatever you and Fanny were whispering about last night? You know we all noticed, even father."

"Well, I'm afraid I've done it this time. She's pushed me too far, she has!"

"Oh come on, then. Out with it. If you're going to wake me up for this you might at least let me in on what's going on," Pamela said. She drew her dressing gown around her as she got out of bed and smoothed her hair, which was puffy from the night's rest.

Margaret stood at the window, pulling at her hands and shifting her weight from foot to foot. "It's just. It's about the ball tonight."

"Oh of course, it must be about the ball." At 24, Pamela was a veteran of balls, and although she was looking forward to the evening, it was with less optimism than her younger sister. The last ball she'd attended had turned mortifying when she inadvertently stepped to another partner after a particularly complicated dance turn. She'd insisted her father practice steps with her for several nights over the previous week to avoid another such debacle. She wasn't getting any younger, after all.

"Well, you know how Fanny can be so insufferable. She knows she'll be better dressed tonight. I certainly know she will. That it should even be in question is ridiculous! And I daresay if our father had 10,000 pounds a year we'd be better dressed, too. But no matter, being Fanny, she's gone and made me enter a pact with her that whichever one of us is deemed to have the least flattering outfit will have to complete a dare."

"Margaret! A dare! What on earth were you thinking?" Pamela said. "For one thing, that's completely silly - how could such a thing even be determined?"

"I know, I know, it was so wicked of me. But I simply cannot back down from her! If I had not accepted she would not have stopped talking about it for weeks! We've determined that Mrs. Dudley shall be the one to decide."

"Mrs. Dudley!" Pamela couldn't help but laugh. "Well, I suppose if you must go about subjecting to yourself to such derision, Mrs. Dudley will do the job rather entertainingly."


Mrs. Dudley, the preacher's wife, had a well-earned reputation for being unable to hold her tongue in her later years. Most recently she'd pronounced the new baby of one of the town of Shropshire's most well-to-do families as looking "fresh from the bog."

"Pamela, don't you want to know what the dare is?," Margaret said. Pamela, who was now making the bed, motioned with her hand for Margaret to keep going. "Whoever loses has to ask Mr. Crawford to dance."

Pamela paused briefly before resuming straightening the pillows. "Asking a gentleman to dance! Have you lost your mind? And Mr. Crawford?," she inquired. "How did he get wrapped up in this? The poor man will be lucky if he even manages to make it through the door without being pecked to death by his mother."

"Well," Margaret tittered. "He's just so maddeningly silent. We're not even sure he can dance! And he is after all an eligible bachelor with 5,000 pounds a year. Socially challenged or not, Fanny and I mean to find out whether he has any hope of being a viable one is all. And it will make such good practice for proper courtship!"

"Fair enough, I suppose," said Pamela. She was old enough to know that there were things more important than dancing. "But I don't expect you'll have an easy time with it."

"What, are you assuming I'll be deemed the less attractive? I'll turn it out just fine, velvet and lace ribbons or no!" At 16, Margaret Woodhouse had fine features and a rosy complexion that was the envy of Shropshire. Fanny Croft, on the other hand, while certainly lovely, didn't quite draw the attention the blond haired Margaret commanded. The girls were the same age, but Fanny, a redhead, possessed an elegance that was on the whole more contrived than Margaret's, much of whose allure arose from a warmth and playfulness of spirit.

"Of course not, darling," Pamela said. "I'm assuming that Fanny won't hold up her end of the pact is all."

Margaret smiled. "We shall see about that."

The day passed slowly but at last the girls wrapped up their sewing and reading and began to prepare for the ball. They were to ride to the nearby Chatsworth estate via the carriage of Fanny's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Croft, who would also serve as their chaperones. 

"Pamela," Margaret said as she spun around in front of her sister, "do you think I'll pass muster?"

Pamela looked up and gave her a thorough once over. Though not quite as luminous as her younger sister, she had her own reputation as a dark and intimidating beauty with an intellect to match. "You look as lovely as I've ever seen you," she said, casting an admiring gaze on Margaret's stylish take on a blue column dress. "And I believe all your attention to sewing has paid off." Margaret hugged her sister and held out her hands to her. "And you, Pamela, you look so gay! I am so happy to see it!"

Pamela blushed. She'd picked out a dress of the palest silver, which she hoped it would provide a lightening effect to contrast her black eyes and hair. She smiled and looked away. "I do sometimes try, you know."

"I know you do, I know! And you do succeed."

The carriage ride passed quickly as the five chattered in anticipation. Fanny wore a long gown of moss green velvet that was sure to draw many compliments. Despite their rivalry, she and Margaret held hands throughout the journey. Whatever the outcome of their competition, they would enjoy themselves.

Pamela, on the other hand, grew more and more anxious with each clop of the horses' hooves. She had not admitted it to her sister, but she was more than a little curious about whether Mr. Crawford could or would dance. Perhaps he wasn't a noted conversationalist, but he was indeed an eligible bachelor, and it had not ever escaped Pamela's notice.


What Margaret didn't know was that he and Pamela had conducted a brief courtship the year prior that was known to only the two of them and his mother. In Pamela's estimation, the pernicious Mrs. Crawford had been the problem - after Henry Crawford's older sister had gotten married and moved north, the widower Mrs. Crawford had selfishly insisted that Henry pay her undue attention, and was always inventing tasks and errands that took up any free time he should have had for courting. She knew that if Henry married, his wife would become head of the Crawford estate, and she did not intend to give up stewardship of her home. Mr. Crawford, it seemed, could not see through this and as Pamela couldn't figure out a way to tactfully point it out without him raising objections, their courtship had come to an end when he failed to meet her as promised for a morning walk the previous September.

They found the ball in full procession when they arrived, and the girls set off in search of Mrs. Dudley. Pamela looked around and didn't see any sign of Mr. Crawford, which prompted both relief and disappointment. She vowed to keep her eyes open for other prospects.


She followed close behind Fanny and Margaret, whom she overheard making a scathing remark about a girl from a neighboring town whose frock was deemed plain and uninspiring. At last they came upon Mrs. Dudley, who was tucking into a bread pudding and ignoring the woman standing next to her, whose back was turned. Just as the girls came upon the ladies, Mrs. Dudley's friend turned around and Pamela was unnerved to discover the companion was none other than Mrs. Crawford, the corners of whose mouth turned slightly upward in a tight little smile when she spotted Pamela.

"Hello Mrs. Dudley," Margaret started, with a curtsy to the old woman. "Is it not a breathtaking evening? The first ball of 1813, fancy that!"

Mrs. Dudley smacked the pudding about in her mouth before responding. "Yes, child, and rather better now that I've gotten a spot of nourishment. I feel like I've been on my feet for hours already." Fanny and Pamela curtsied as well as Mrs. Crawford looked on. "You do know Mrs. William Crawford, I'm sure?," Mrs. Dudley asked. "Mr. Henry Crawford is milling about here somewhere, isn't he Mrs. Crawford? Where is he, hiding in the larder?"

Fanny and Margaret stifled a laugh as Mrs. Crawford stiffened and replied, "Certainly he's here. But he's a very busy man now with Mr. William Crawford gone these long years. He has much to do to keep up the household, you know. He's very tired and I don't expect we'll stay long. We have affairs in the morning to attend to."

Fanny, giving her sweetest smile, cast a sideways glance at Margaret before addressing Mrs. Dudley. "Mrs. Dudley, we are wondering if you will do us a small favor. Margaret and I, we've so looked forward to tonight that we've both sworn to do our absolute best to dress for the occasion, and we are wondering if you might decide for us who has put forth the most worthy effort?"

Mrs. Dudley turned her full attention to the girls. "Well, I suppose I might proffer an opinion. But why waste your time with me? I'm quite certain that by the end of the night you'll have your outcome decided by the number of young men who ask you to dance." Mrs. Crawford looked on with interest.

"Oh, but Mrs. Dudley, they can hardly be counted upon to deliver an objective verdict, can they? We need the opinion of a lady!," said Margaret.

Mrs. Dudley began to look the both of them over when Mrs. Crawford interjected, now smiling rather too graciously. "Girls, you two are perfect visions - Ms. Croft, your green dress fits with your red hair and complexion perfectly. And Ms. Margaret, how well the cut of your dress suits your figure." Here she turned and fixed a pointed look upon Pamela, who was standing behind the rivals. "Where I think you might have better focused your attention is on your sister." Pamela, who'd again been searching the room for Mr. Crawford, snapped to attention. "My dear," Mrs. Crawford continued, "I believe you could have used something to make you a little more, well, interesting, don't you think?"

Margaret and Fanny turned to Pamela, who colored slightly from the flash of anger with which she bore the remark. "I'm afraid, Mrs. Crawford, that I haven't the gift for fashion that my sister and cousin possess." The horrid old woman had influenced Mr. Crawford after all!

"Nonsense, dear, you're just about as pretty as the others," Mrs. Dudley said. "So what if you're a good bit older. Surely someone will ask for your hand in a waltz."

Margaret and Fanny took Pamela's hands and led her away, bidding the ladies goodnight as they fled.

"Pamela," Margaret said, laughing, "I am so dreadfully sorry, I didn't expect that to happen. What a miserable woman that Mrs. Crawford is! I'd no idea!"

"Nor I,"  said Fanny. "I always felt she must be a sad woman for having lost her husband too early."

"Well," said Pamela. "I suppose it shows yet again that one never knows what cunning is lurking in the hearts of Englishwomen." The three laughed, but Pamela was seething.

"So," said Margaret, "will you do it?"

"Do what?," said Pamela.

"Don't be daft," Margaret cried. "Will you take the dare? Will you find out once and for all if Mr. Crawford is capable of dancing?" Margaret and Fanny looked on expectantly.

Pamela considered this for a moment. "I daresay I will," she said, to the girls' delight. And with that, they set out for the dancehall.

She spotted him a short while later, standing next to a few other gentlemen of mutual acquaintance. "Margaret," she said, whispering into her sister's ear. "Where is Mrs. Crawford? Do you see her anywhere?"

"Hmmm. Oh! There she is, she's getting two glasses of punch! Oh! now she's heading toward Mr. Crawford!"

"Perfect," said Pamela. She pinched her cheeks quickly and walked over to where he was standing. She could now see Mrs. Crawford heading toward them out of the corner of her eye.

A lady doesn't ask a gentleman to dance, Pamela thought. But then, nor does a lady stand in the way of the natural order of things.

As she sidled up to Mr. Henry Crawford, Ms. Pamela Davenport held out her hand. "Mr. Crawford, it is so lovely to see you," she said. "It's been too long, I think." As she curtsied, she stuck her back foot out ever so slightly more than necessary, causing the approaching Mrs. Crawford to stumble over it and spill her punch out onto her dress and the floor. The gentlemen standing next to them caught her swiftly, but Mr. Crawford, now flustered and more than a little distracted by the sight of Pamela's exposed decolletage, barely registered his mother's slip.

"I don't suppose you could entertain an old friend for a dance, could you?," Pamela said. She turned briefly to smile at Mrs. Crawford as he led her toward the dance floor.


Posted via web from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week two of twenty-ten

First off, I had a great holiday - spent some quality time with my family in Atlanta, which included my nine month old niece, Maddie, and my seven month old niece, Samantha - and it was good medicine. I didn't do a whole lot other than eat a lot of shitty junk food, act like a crazed baby lady with my nieces, see some old friends, watch movies, take walks, and read Anne of Green Gables on my iPhone. (Again.) And then I had a brief stopover in Breckenridge to visit my youngest sister, where I capped off two weeks of mild excess with a few more days of thorough excess in the style that only 24 year olds in a ski town can muster. Suffice it to say that by the time I got back to LA I was ready to return to a more spartan existence.

And now we're two weeks into the new year, and so far, I'm happy. I accomplished so little in December that I was basically desperate to crawl out of the holiday slump, but I did manage to make one important decision last month, and that was on a medium: screenwriting. I'd been agonizing over where to focus my writing energies, and truthfully, if the media world weren't in an outright clusterfucked state, I would have just started applying like crazy to editorial jobs. I did apply to a few, in fact, and I actually think I'd make a decent journalist, but those jobs are in very short supply, and the future there is so uncertain it freaks even me out. So I thought and thought about what I wanted to do, and then made my decision when I came across a great intro to screenwriting program.

Class has only been in session for one week, but I'm already knee deep in the writing. Over my head, really. I've seen thousands of movies, and I even took an intro to screenwriting class at UCLA a few years ago, but this is a serious workshop, and my head is spinning. The class is mostly filled with other people from the entertainment business - a director, a lighting guy, some actors, and even one working writer - so I'm feeling a little intimidated due to my naivete. But besides the occasional moment of panic that I have no business doing this, I'm enjoying it and learning a lot. By the end of eight weeks I'm going to churn out the world's shittiest first draft, but it will be a complete draft!

I don't know if this will stick - I guess you never really know if anything will - but I've told myself I'll give it a year and a few scripts and see how it goes. My one real weakness as I can see it now is that I've only ever read a handful of scripts, so I really don't have a strong feel for how a good one looks, but I'm banking on the feel for story and dialogue that I do have from reading thousands and thousands of books to carry me through. That and the frantic screenplay cramming I'm doing right now. 

And on the matter of the day job, I made a decision there too, which in some ways is even scarier. I'm going to wait tables and/or bartend. I'm worried about going back to it after such a long time away, but you can't beat the money, and I figure it'll be nice to have something that gets me out around people to even out the solitude of the writing. I know it will be jarring and a far cry from the time when I had an office and could close the door when I was in a bad mood, but I have to give it a try. I just hope I can get my ego to cooperate.

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