Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beginnings and Endings

Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, I haven't yet come up with an exercise for beginnings and endings for the writing class. I think I'll steal something from Writing Fiction, but really, no, that's not going to work because the author doesn't quite focus on that particular aspect in detail.

Bad beginnings for essays: "Since the beginning of time..."
Bad beginnings for stories: "I woke up at 7 AM with the alarm clock."
Good beginnings for short stories: Start in a moment of crisis. Something is happening immediately. Let us know where and when we are. Let us know who the narrator is, who the characters are. Their gender or age shouldn't come as a surprise 1/3 of the way into the story either. 

Bad endings for essays: "And that's the whole truth and nothing but the truth and I'm sticking to it."
Bad endings for stories: "And it was all a dream. ---The End."

Pet peeves in endings:
Ah-ha, surprise endings. Unless you're O.Henry, don't do it. It's even irritating in his work.
I also don't like the vague, ambiguous ends where the writer says you can interpret however you want. I want the writer to know what she's trying to do, even if she doesn't exactly succeed.
Tied up in a bow ending. This is where everything comes together so neatly and perfectly that you can only use numerous adverbs to describe it.

Good advice about endings from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, "'Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'”

Here's what Joan Didion says about beginnings and endings in her interview from The Paris Review
(you can read the entire article here):

      You have said that once you have your first sentence you've got your piece. That's what Hemingway said. All he needed was his first sentence and he had his short story.

     What's so hard about that first sentence is that you're stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you've laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.

     The first is the gesture, the second is the commitment.

     Yes, and the last sentence in the piece is another adventure. It should open the piece up. It should make you go back and start reading from page one. That's how it should be, but it doesn't always work. I think of writing anything at all as a kind of high-wire act. The minute you start putting words on paper you're eliminating possibilities. Unless you're Henry James.

Maybe I'll create a quiz to see if students can tell the difference between good and bad first sentences?In the meantime, here are some photos of my super cool mom and her brothers:

And then again at church.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bachelor Contestants Tell All or Total Recaps for TWO HOURS


Are you falling for me, because I'm falling for you?

That girl is a bitch.

She made out with the producer on the stairs. Fake gasp.

Several scenes in which Jake is boring.

Their connections are uniformly amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gia has a fake accent and is insecure but has learned to express herself (in a fake, indistinguishable accent).

Tears are shed out of sorrow for not lasting long enough to get a half-page spread in Playboy.

Fake laugh at Chris Harrison's lame jokes.

More previews of recaps from previous and upcoming shows aired and not yet aired.

Michelle remains psychotic.She says that she's normal and the other girls attack her, in an attempt to get her to cry again.

Ali must be brought back out to show the entire five minute relationship they had and how much chemistry was there and then the tragedy of her job requiring her to return to work (even though we know she works for Facebook; seems like maybe an online job could maybe let her work remotely for two more weeks, no)?

Tepid applause as Rosalyn is brought back out. Chris pretends to like her and to be apologetic. Rosalyn makes a joke and no one laughs. Chris tries to confuse the situation by bringing up her son. She denies that she ever made out with her son or the producer. She asks Chris what exactly she did wrong. He suggests they go to a commercial break.

There is no feminism in this show. OMG--Rosalyn just called Chris out for flirting with other women and Chris said, I will not dignify that with a response and could we please go to a commercial break right this second. LOVE it. I heart Rosalyn.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Column

I keep forgetting to put in links to my Philadelphia Stories column. Here is one from the last issue called "How to Become a Writer, Birth through 7th Grade." I need to write Part II today--I guess that's high school through mid-twenties? It's nice to have this regular writing deadline. I really should have more. It keeps me honest.

Friday, February 19, 2010

From Baby to BABE

This is the picture that makes my mom say, OMG, you had such brown eyes! They were really brown and now they're more not-brown than brown.

My grandpa's legs. Note the overalls. He wore those every day.  Me learning early on that I was in no way athletic. Couldn't even roll a ball across the floor without injuring myself.

I love this picture because even though I'm not exactly sure of the context, both Jeff and I have clearly just had our showers and are getting ready to go somewhere; probably church. But then you have my grandma in the background, in her bra, and smoking a cigarette. She would kill me if she knew this photo were out there, but she's in her nineties and only rarely gets online to tweet about her life.

Here I am in ponytails next to a giant car. I think I'm holding a book, but it also looks as though I might be trying to self-tan.

And then here I am practicing piano with Mr. Lockwood who never, ever suggested that I perform in a recital. I was not a music prodigy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My friend Jason and his wife have a new kitty cat named Percy. He only has three legs. They got him from the SPCA two or so weeks ago, right after his leg was amputated b/c of an infection in his paw. He's a Port Richmond/Fishtown cat and so quite tough. Evidence below:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Evolution

Just scanned a few more photos because I was having trouble coming up with a topic to write about today. Brain is semi on the fritz. Here is a photo of my mother and her brother, Richard in Nebraska. He already has his own pair of overalls.

Mom to the left, squinting into the sun while tall, older sister Margaret stands by her, also squinting. I imagine that mom's dress is a hand-me-down.
I call this one talking, because it looks like I'm holding forth on something. I started talking early and really have never shut up.

My first nude shot.

This is my cousin Charlie and me--looks like he's still in diapers. I think I'm about 2 or 3 years older than him, though I always felt much, much older. See how I have my hand on his knee, as though prepared to take care of him? Looks like he just finished eating a Swanson's meat pot pie. Those tins were excellent for making mud pies too.

A terrible, terrible, no good, very bad haircut. I remember getting that hair cut, I think. The lady was talking a lot and she accidentally cut my ear. I had to wear dresses for like 6 months so that people didn't keep calling me "boy."

A little waif. This was our last Christmas at Grandma's for a long time.

And a jump in time. This is when my hair was long and I couldn't decide if I should get it cut or not, but I wanted it to kind of look cool, so I would let one side hang down, as if it could be a stand in for like a feathered cut somehow.

Then, in seventh grade (I think?), I finally relented and got my hair cut off into what I hoped was a glamorous, Charlie's Angels type cut; and it worked in so far as I look like Sabrina, the least glam. I also was taking a political stance for part of that year to not use hair spray (ozone layer), so I would spend 35 hours every morning before school curling my hair into craziness, and then by second period gym class, it would be flat again. Not my prettiest moments.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"On the Wings of Love" as played on a synthesizer

Vienna has never been in love before--heck fire, she's only fourteen! But Jake thinks she's a whole lot of fun and he just likes it that she can act like a total immature idiot, which brings the immature idiot out in him and together, they can have completely inane conversations and pick each other up and throw each other down and neither one knows what in the world is going on! Vienna reminds Jake a lot of himself, when himself was a boy and he's never been in love with someone so much like that teenage boy he remembers and wants to fall in love with (wait, he wants to fall in love with a teenage boy)? They are so comfortable around each other they can just act like assholes and not even notice it. He loves that shitty little tattoo of a mermaid she got put on her hip at Hot Topic for just $24.99, and he loves that they can roll around in the sand together like two young dogs in heat.

Aside: Didn't see all of the previous date with Tenley, only got a smidgen of her talking in this little girl baby voice that could drive one mad.

You know what one of Jake's favorite words is? AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! Jake wants to make sure that he is more attracted to her heart than her tits. Vienna wants more than just a husband, she wants someone who will be codependent with her and be everything in her life. She loves her family more than anything, but when she gets married, her husband will  beTHE most important thing in her entire life and she'll never think about her family again; that is, if it's okay with her daddy and grandaddy if she marries Jake forever and ever. Let's turn the clock back, F feminism, get married!

I don't think the crickets could be any louder.

She's looking a lot like Darryl Hannah in Splash.

Vienna tells Jake she cannot imagine going back to Florida without him. Does anyone not find this ridiculous? She confesses that she's fallen in love with him or with someone very like him, someone who would become her husband, as this seems to be the only criteria. Guess what, in the real world, if you told a guy that you'd been on four dates with (three of which where with ten other girls) that you loved him, he would not say, "I love that you said that." Unless it was followed by..."Because I am shipping out tomorrow." Omigosh, Vienna can read! She's reading the date card and opening her eyes as wide as possible.

Jake tells Vienna that she looks amazing and smokey and sexy in her white lingerie. He takes her over to the bed covered in rose petals and illuminated by candles. Hopefully, the candles will catch the rose petals on fire. He says again that she's amazing and that he is so crazy about her...Fade to...

Next up, fake phone call from Ali. I have to stop watching this! I have to! It's an insult to women, tweens, teens, men, girls, boys, kids, dogs, cats--any sentinent creature you could name.

Jake tells cheesy Chris that he has fallen in love with all of these women. ALL of them. He has such a good time with all of these women, ALL OF THEM. But not Ali. Ali can go f herself. Now we get seven minutes of recapping what we have already seen in the first part of the show. Gia is just so beautiful and fake, that he can't believe how much he finds her to be amazing and how much he is in love with her for a reason he can't fathom, except that's what he was told to say by the producers. He is falling in love with Tenley too though and she brings so much joy and positive energy to every single goddamn conversation. Vienna is just always herself and that puts Jake at ease, even when she's forcing him to wear a pirate patch or wrapping her legs around him like a sucker fish. Jake is just so confused as he looks at their head shots, that he barely knows what bland expression to wear.

Jake has taken his relationship with all three women to another level this week (had sex with all of them in their fantasy suites)? Tenley's tape: I can't believe I feel lin love with you after all the heartbreak in my life and she looks forward to a future of exploring new adventures and having babies with him and she loves all of their baby kisses, because when he kisses her, she feels adored and when they dance together, she believes that she could have the fairy tale ending that she's never had before because she was jilted. Gia's tape: She finds him to be incredible and she has an amazing time with him, and she thinks he's a really great guy and she can honestly say that she's falling in love with ihm and she really hopes that they have more time to grow with each other and she never wants to let him go. Vienna's tape: Hi, sweetheart! She explains that she just dyed her hair with an entire bottle of perioxide and she hopes he notices and doesn't stumble and fall from the glare off her hair and chip a tooth on his way to giving her a rose and babies in the future.

Commercial break #2445.

I guarantee that Gia is going home. Right? She is not America's sweetheart (well, neither is Vienna, but whatever). We know that Vienna stays, even as she stands on the shoreline sending bullets of hate toward the other girls and Gia sways back and forth like a litle girl. Jake wants to vomit. He is eing made to make this decision. God, Vienna looks like a man. gia is still smiling and rocking back and forth, yet also biting her lips together. She hugs Vienna, even though she hates her. What will Jake say? He says, "That was not easy and he thinks she is absolutely amazing. She is such an amazing girl." She laughs and snot is running down her nose. She can't stop giggling in this weird way. He says that he found some really great girls. Jake's heart was broken from making her cry. Gia is crying in the limo and saying it's hard for her to move on from all of her heart breaks. The Jeep stalls and they pan away.

Next week, we don't have to watch because it's the Tell-All and it's totally stupid. Jake sees his future with both of the women and he wishes that he could marry both of them, even Vienna, who's dressed in a red gown like she's about to go to prom. That's it. Let's never watch it again, k? 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Better, but Still Broke-did

I thought for certain when I went in today that they X-ray would show my bone miraculously and completely healed, especially since I haven't been wearing anything on it and have been able to sleep on that side of my body without any trouble. But, alas, I am still broken:


It doesn't really  hurt; it feels mostly like a bruise. Like, a huge giant bruise that's actually a complete fracture.

Is today Monday? I keep thinking it is because we had two snow days in a row and now I'll discombulated.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Day, Part II

Beginning to feel a bit like the Jack Nicholson character in The Shining--a shut in at the Overlook Hotel, only in this version, it is the cats who are in the most danger. Spent some of yesterday doing work stuff, but also finishing up yet another in a long series of crossword puzzle books. I worried about how I would shovel the snow since I don't actually own a shovel. I thought for sure that one of the neighborhood peeps would come by to offer to do it (as they did when it was bad this weekend), but nobody was out. Now, it seems like the snow might melt on its own, but I still have this low level anxiety about what my neighbors must think of me since I haven't cleared the way (neither have the two houses on each side of me, but still).

Aw, Jenn Bing just came over and she's shoveling the sidewalk for me! And she won't even take my ten dollars. I'll buy her coffe. See, this is what happens when you have nice people in your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Art and Snow

It snowed a bit this weekend. These are photos of what used to be my back patio.

And this is probably the only time in his entire life that Ernesto has refused to go outside. Both he and Emma Carol, really, really want to be out there until they find that the snow is cold and not so friendly.


Below, please find some urban art that Lisa Marie and I discovered in South Philly.You just never know what will turn up.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Joy and Life and Dancing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The title refers to what the baby-voiced Tenley can bring to a household. and you know what TenLee would say about that? She would say, "Aw, tank you, daddy! Tank you for not being like my big bad ex-husband who weally didn't understand me or appreciate my pirouettes at all!" Of course, to be fair, this show is heavily edited and so they have to put labels on every one of the contestants/actresses/automotons, and her label is, Can't Get Over My Ex. The worst thing I've seen in this second half is Tinlee dancing solo for Jake in a leotard. I wish they would've played, "On the Wings of Love!" along with it. Her ex husband never admired her dancing and he also didn't get her hair-dos or her polka-dotted rainboots. Dad would give his blessing to Jake if he would just take his daughter off his hands, for the love of God, please marry her!!! What century are we in where the dad has to give his say-so and tells this guy he's known for ten minutes that it's okay for him to wed his off-spring for all eternity?

We already know he ends up with Vienna Cookie, so what's the point?

Next up: Vienna. She's a Florida girl, like, duh, no kidding. I grew up surrounded by Florida girls and they seriously all look like her. Jake says, There's just something so natural about Vienna (as he's spinning her around near a pond and her periodxided hair is flailing out in all different unnatural directions). Oops, looks like Vienna has been married too, and divorced and she's 23 years old. Jake notices that Vienna really puts her dad on a pedastal and so he's nervous about whether he'll have to wrastle an alligator to prove his devotion to her and her teeny-tiny light denim shorts. Aww, Vienna's dad has Mr. Magoo glasses. He's fumbling around trying to find a Ritz cracker and accidentally eats one of the dog's biscuits. How long has it been since she's been home, like twenty years? Her dad's acting like he hasn't seen her since she was knee high to a Seminole papoose. Daddy expects his little girl to be treated like a princess and how do Jake feel about this here? Jake says he will try to treat her like a Princess or at least third runner up in the Miss Orange Bowl competition. Is it my imagination or is Jake's Texas accent getting thicker around these faux panhandle Southerners?

Fake drama as what's-her-face (Ali?) tells Jake that she has to choose between him and keeping her job. Like, wouldn't she have asked her work about this before she left? Jake doesn't know what to say. He decides to tell her that she has to weigh which would be her bigger regret--choosing him or her job at Burger King. He can't guarantee that he'll put a ring on her finger and he can't guarantee that he won't. Depends on what's better for the ratings. Cue the slow music. Wish Tenley were in the background doing her interpretative dance of this very moment.

Rose ceremony: Jake expresses that he has come to the show to find love, but he also feels that it is not in his power to tell Ali what to do. Cue commerical. I swear, 50% of this show is ads. Jake must go into the room with the head shots and decide who he likes. Music swells again. Chris will give Jake a few minutes to talk to the women or to...I don't know, roll dice?  Jake has a moment with drunk Ali. They have to put her dialogue in text so we can understand what she's saying. Jake says that he doesn't want her to go. He asks her what she is feeling. She says that her, like, feelings, have like, like, really progressed, and she's never felt like she's met anyone who wasn't deserving of her love (huh?). Jake says that if she is falling in love with him, that she should stay. She says that she loves him and then we see a camera shot of her panties. She will leave and perhaps come back in the last episode, where he will dramatically reject her and Tenley will appear above them in a tutu.

Everyone is crying, even Chris. Ali says that she will have to leave and that she is so, so sorry. Close up on Jake, who seems to be crying real tears or else something just got in his eye. Jake ever so slowly walks Ali to the limo. He says that he feels like she is slipping through his fingers and he doesn't know how to stop her. Sobs all around. Seven minutes left in the show, yet it seems like an eternity. Ali says that she's sorry again, but if she doesn't show up to work, who will make sure that the fries are properly crisped? She doesn't know if she made the right choice.

Jake says it hurts like crazy that Ali left and he's trying to find his inner strength and he is going to try to contact his inner Jake to figure this out and that he hopes that his inside Jake will accept his collect call. His heart is just going to stick it out for as long as he can stand it. He has three AMAZING women and he is going to see what happens on the Aleutian Islands, or wherever they're going. Siberia?

Meanwhile, Ali regrets her decision five seconds later and can't believe she won't get to go to the Aleutian Island and see the sled dogs.

Coming up next week...The women get to meet with Jake on the beach and Jake has to figure out which of the three women are most likely to cause him to make the hardest decision he has ever had to make on this incredible, amazing, fucking awesome journey.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Let it Snow, Who Cares, I've Been to Trader Joe's

Which means that I can live off of tofu for the next six days without starving, regardless of what the weather does.

Padhraig sent me this link: http://www.theonion.com/content/video/how_to_put_the_spark_back_into

Watch it if you want to learn how to further bond with your cat.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yes, Missed the First Hour but I'm Certain it Doesn't Matter

Here's how Corrie talks, "You know, I would like to murmur murmur and like murmur. I'm a murmur." Jake,"Huh?" "I love Jesus and I'm a vir-mur." Tonight with Corrie was do or die for Jake and I think she may have just died.

Now the blond Allie? Ali? Muhamed is having her one-on-one date with Jake in San Francisco--her home town. The girls falesly bid her to have a grrrrrrrrrrrreat time!! She is so ready to give him her heart, her soul, her "everything." Take that, Corrie. She forces Jake to buy her daises and walks down the street with him squealing and saying how perfect everything is. But Alliegh needs to tell him how much she like, likes him. I suspect that she should try a little harder to appear serious. She makes up her fake perfect Sunday which includes checking her email and eating eggs. Jake could absolutely see himself in San Francisco and Ally can totally and definitely see herself in Texas. She confesses that her family is not perfect, but that she's okay with that. Jake wants to get some real answers from aLyy about Vienna (who he so clearly doesn't like and who he has been forced to keep on to keep the show from grinding to a complete halt). Jake is forcing Alee to talk shite on Vienna, but she is refusing to bite. She is saying that she will leave it up to him and that she doesn't want to seem like a bitch. I'm shocked. She's really falling for him and she thinks they have something so great and so that makes her like so happy. Now they are frolicking on the beach and she is ruining her $500 boots by wading in the surf. That's how much she loivkes him.

Cue San Franciso trolley bells.

Jake cannot believe that he has to send one of these wonderful ladies home, because he has fallen for all of them. Tenley wants to believe that her connection with Jake is real, but she's not sure and she's also not sure what color her hair is--blond, brown, azure? Someone went crazy with the curling iron on her hair. Jake does like her a lot. Now they are awkwardly dancing in the fake library. Please let her dress fall down to reveal her boobs. I could never never never dance with someone (1). Wearing six inch heels; (2). Without any music.

He would like to have a few more moments with Corrie to see if she is really into this virginity thing. She explains that just because she's a virgin, doesn't mean that she's not in touch with her sensual side. Jake wants to let her now that it's okay with him. It's not about sex appeal, it's about heart appeal.

Vienna's hair has been made into a faux bun that makes it appear as though she's just emerged from a wind tunnel. Does what's her face--Gia, does Gia have a Jersey accent or not? Hard to say. She's quite beautiful, except when she does the pouty thing. Jake is saying that it's totally amazing. Amazing is the key word. Tenley can't stop fiddling with her dress. All of them want Vienna to be kicked off. Vienna is being pulled aside to see where he is with her. He lies and says that he's really attracted to Vienna--what? If he keeps her, that will be so so so so fake. Jake takes her into the bedroom to show her the view of the city from his balcony. I guess she's kind of cute, except her teeth are completely straight and all the same size. Jake is feeling like the situation sucks. She thinks they have great chemistry, but I don't see that at all. They've all been told to say, "I-want-Jake-to-figure-it-out-for-himself." Jake is just going to let his heart go and see where it lands. He is kissing her and covering her entire blond, windswept hair with his giant palms.

Uh-oh. It's that time again. I have no idea who he's going to send home broken-hearted. It has to be Vienna or Corrie. Though if he sends Corrie home, he will look like a total cad. Chris has a faux earnest conversation with Jake about how he felt on each of the dates with each of the women each of the time. We get a 5 minute long recap and montag of what we just watched about 10 minutes before. In case we forgot: Gia seems kind of insecure, but sweet. Tenley has the straighest hair on one date, and the curliest on the next. Aille is just so easy to be around, even when she is straddling him on the ground in a really unnatural and weird way. Corrie is a virgin who will not live with her partner before marriage. Vienna talks and acts like a fourteen year old. Jake stares at the headshots on the bookshelf.

Rose ceremony:
He thinks that all of them are absolutely amazing and his heart is just breaking right now.

First rose:...............................................Tenley. Her cheeks are so, so rosy.
Second rose:........................................................Aleigh. I wish one of them would not accept this rose.
Third rose:.............................................................Gia. Yes, she's a swimsuit model. Very coy and wearing a necklace around her wrist.
Final rose:......................................................................Vienna. He almost vomits before he says her name.
Going home: Corrie, the amazing virgin. She doesn't get it. She just doesn't get it. I can explain it to you, later, Corrie. At least she's not bawling her eyes out. How long is this damn limo? Oh, okay, she kind of is crying a lot and wiping her eyes with a paper towel.

Whew! He's so glad that tonight is over. Left: two and a half blonds and one brown haired gal.  Alei's mom is cute. Someone's dad owns a motorcycle. Okay, Gia's mom is taking his balls to the wall. Uh-oh, biggest bombshell of all is being dropped on him and there will be no rose ceremony. Yeah, no shit, because he let half the girls go and they need to fill up another show.

Why is it that the outtakes are 1,000 times more interesting than anything they ever show during the episode?