Tuesday, August 26, 2003
I Waited For The Joke, It Never Did ArriveI know. We never met. We e-mailed only a few times. But why does a part of me always feel like a scrawny five-year-old locked in the basement, huddled in the corner for heat and waiting for someone to arrive? Time to move on.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Swim Out Past The BreakersFirst day of contract gig wasn't too bad. OK, so I don't have my own office and they use Lexis instead of Westlaw (for those not in the know, it's like using Mozilla instead of Explorer to surf the web), but ContractGig is paying $20 more per hour than Phuqued Firm, the office doesn't look like a dental suite, and I've been told not to work more than 35 hours per week. So far, I'm just doing research and writing which is the lowest key you can get as a lawyer. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
A Dream Unthreatened by the Morning LightFor the past couple of years, I've been having airport dreams off and on. I'm late for flight. I'm waiting for a flight. I'm rushing to get to a flight. Thursday night/Friday morning, I'm still rushing to catch a flight. My dad passes me looking pissed because I'm late. I think I know the gate number, but I realize as I pass security I have no idea where I'm going. Out of sheer luck, I find the gate. I get on the plane which is mostly full. I have an aisle seat, which I'm not too happy about. I love the window seats although aisle seats are safer--I just love the view. The flight is about to leave and I realize there's no one filling the window seat. Outside, the sun is setting beneath the mountains. The engines start.
This is the first airport dream I've had in which I've made it to the flight.
Friday, August 22, 2003
AM 180By themselves, not so weird. Together, freaky. Things that happened today:
1. The heat wave has definitely broken.
2. I received a response from Anthropology Chick from an e-mail I wrote before our IM sesssion.
3. Technically the first day of contract gig (in a building by the ocean, oooooooh, purty). I was asked to come in at 2:00 p.m. This woman I had a brief crush on in law school is also there as a contract attorney. We also started at the same firm out of law school (me in the Silicon Valley office, her in the L.A. office). My first assignment is to do some research on misrepresentation issues in North Carolina and South Carolina law. I went to college in North Carolina.
Today had a very everything old is new again feel to it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
From Rusholme With LoveI have an interview for a contract gig on Thursday. I IM'd with Anthropology Chick for an hour tonight (oh my God she is way way snarky). I have the advice from my wise-beyond-her-years younger sister ringing in my ears: "Marty, don't fuck it up."
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Airbag / How Am I Driving?Random thoughts on a Sunday afternoon:
1. My memory is showing its age. The first woman I dated when I moved back to L.A. was not a professor of anthropology, but of archaeology. Apparently, my friend's memories are showing their ages too. Their first comment when I mentioned anthropology chick: "Hey, wasn't that first woman you dated when you moved back here an anthropology chick too?"
2. OK, in the last 2 days since anthropology chick wrote me, I've gotten 35 new hits on my match.com profile.
3. I wrote back anthropology chick on Friday. Haven't heard back yet. If I don't hear back on Tuesday, as David Grohl would say, "DONE, DONE, ON TO THE NEXT ONE!"
4. Waking up around noon is not good for coherent thoughts. It is really good for making you sound like a fifteen-year-old geek pining after Kiki on the Cheerleading Squad. Pppphhhhhht.
5. A shout out to Alex in Cornell. Yo brutha, looks like the tribe of Cute Borders Chicks all ovah the United States have heard the drumbeats telling them to move on. Unfortunately, as a yellow brutha, I don't have the option of Whiteboy Rap. I'm all for bustin' stereotypes yo, but the yellow bruthas can't rap. We be all sounding like Elmer Fudd channeling Jackie Chan when we rap. Yellow brutha rap all be like "My Jade Princess got Beeg Spoilah, don’t mean on her Honda. I got beeg rims for her pleasure, my chassis so low to da ground.”
Friday, August 15, 2003
So Damn Beautiful (Chris Coco Mix)I wrote a lot yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn't on the novel. I spent a while on my l'il political rant, then spent a good three hours writing and revising two single-spaced pages worth of comments on Dubois' screenplay (wow, don't I sound all Hollywood). But maybe the karma points I accumulated helping out Dubois got a cute blond chick to write back to me on match.com. Hmmmm, she's blond, studying anthropology and the first woman I dated (albeit very briefly) when I moved back to L.A. was blond, a professor in anthropology . . . Aaaaaaaaaaaagh! What's up with me and blond anthropology chicks!
Thursday, August 14, 2003
2+2=5I've avoided writing about politics on the blog. The problem with most blog political entries is that either they preach to the choir or they piss people off, and nothing in between. Anyone who believes that all Republicans are fundamentalist Christian pro-corporate non-thinking tree-cutting racist white men who beat their wives on a regular basis is not going to be open to other views. Anywone who believes that all Democrats are Commie Jew-loving tree-hugging crypto-anarchist baby-killing secular humanists who love sodomy is not going to be open to other views. Neither of those aforementioned folk are going to put forth informed, intelligent arguments but are more likely mistake virulent hate-filled crapola for discussion. (For the record, I'm a moderate Asian blond-loving recycle-when-I-can spiritual-but-not-religious Democrat.)
But, this whole California recall has been sticking in my craw. I'm not a fan of Gray Davis. I would've voted for Richard Riordan had the California Repos not shot themselves in the foot by nominating Bill Simon. But I wonder how many of those folks who support the recall actually voted in November 2002. When the idiot local newsman interviews the idiot local man on the streets, he never follows up with, "Did you vote in 2002?" Only 45% of California's registered voters turned out for the November 2002 election. There's something wrong about calling do-over in a game you haven't even played.
The standard line you hear about recalling Gray Davis is that, under his watch, California's largest budget surplus became California's largest budget deficit. Gosh, if that's a valid reason, Dubya should be shaking in his boots come 2004. Dubya inherited the nation's largest surplus, and, quel surprise, we now have the nation's largest deficit. Yet I doubt the same folks screaming for Davis' blood are going to be calling for Dubya's head in 2004.
I heard someone defending the cost of the recall (currently estimated at $35 million) say that would only be $1 per Californian. See, cheap when ya think about it, right? Well, wouldn't you rather have that dollar go to, ummm, I dunno, fixing California's crap ass public education system? Priorities, people, priorities.
I get pissed off at the stupidity of this recall, but what scares me is the implications for future elections. Let's spend $35 million each time someone out there with too much money and too much time on his hands decides he doesn't like the outcome of a vote! Yay! Know that in lovely sunny California, your vote doesn't mean shit if some asshole decides he doesn't like how you voted.
OK, sheesh, I have to admit, some parts of the recall reinforce my belief in karma. Let's begin with Darrell Issa. OK, so technically, maybe Issa didn't lie about his background. Right, just like I technically get a handjob if a woman waves at me. Issa clearly funded the recall for his own political aspirations instead of from any grass roots anger. He clearly thought the Republican party was going to reward him by endorsing him for governor if the recall vote went forward. Then Ah-nuld comes in and blows Issa's dream outta the water. You know someone spoke to Issa and told him not to run. Told him very forcefully and in no uncertain terms. As Nelson Muntz would say, "Haa haaa!"
Plus, if the recall goes through and Ah-nuld gets elected, California basically gets a Democrat in office - pro-choice, pro-gun control, gay friendly. Not exactly what Issa or many neo-cons were envisioning when they hijacked the process. Jackasses.
OK, that was the first (and hopefully last ever) political post from Marty Stark.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
You've Been Drifting For A Long Long Time . . .I got massively sick of sitting in the hot, stagnant air trying to write, so I decided to head down to Santa Monica for lunch at my favorite diner. Lo and behold, the diner was closed--after 28 years, the owners decided to retire. Crap. The sign that informed me that the diner was closed also stated that the menu would be transferred over to the British pub next door.
I headed over to the pub and no, the menu wasn't transferred over. But there was a nice breeze, the first I've felt for the last week. You could almost believe that there was no heat wave. Anyway, bottom line, I decided to stay for lunch. I ordered the fish and chips plus a pint of Guinness. Someone plonked in a couple of quarters in the jukebox, and "Driftwood" by Travis came on.
Next thing I know, it's a Friday in August 1999. I'm having lunch outside with my BigLaw buddies--fellow associates and the litigation paralegals--at the British Banker's Club in Menlo Park. This is one of the few times I was actually relaxed while at BigLaw. For a couple of hours, I wasn't thinking about coming in during the weekend to finish up any reply briefs or worried about discovery issues.
OK, so I'm not exactly Proust, but I sorta get what he was trying to do.
Friday, August 08, 2003
Obscene, Filthy, Dirty, Immoral . . .INT. MARTY STARK'S APT. IN WESTWOOD. DAY.
At a dining room table cluttered by wires and books, Marty is hunched over a laptop. He is rapidly clicking a mouse and muttering to himself.
Someone pounds on the door. Marty does not look up.
MARTY: Go the fuck away!
KARMA POLICE #1: Open up! We know what you're doing!
MARTY: I'm surfin' the web for porn, now leave me alone!
KARMA POLICE #1: C'mon Mr. Stark, we know that's not what you're doin'. You're looking at match.com profiles. Just let us in so we can have a talk.
MARTY: Fuck off!
KARMA POLICE #1: Look, you have a problem. This just isn't right, looking at all those profiles at three in the afternoon on a workday. We just want to help. Open the door and let's talk.
MARTY: You don't know me! You don't know me! Go take a Hoover to yourself and have it suck on you, fascists!
KARMA POLICE #1: Aw fuck this noise. Barry, got the other end of the battering ram? OK. Mr. Stark, you have given us no other choice!
The sound of three slow booms come from the door, which is buckling with each pounding. The door breaks at the fourth boom.
Two men in black riot suits burst in, guns drawn.
KARMA POLICE #1: Move away from the laptop Mr. Stark! Now!
MARTY: OK, OK. See I'm lifting my hands from the laptop and I'm . . . damnit, just let me check who's online now! The next one could be the one!
One of the men tackles Marty off his seat. Marty continues to squirm.
MARTY: Let me up you asshole! Let me up! I have to see if SchoolTeacher777 is into Asians! Aaaaaaaaaagh.
KARMA POLICE #2: You will calm down, Mr. Stark. All I have to do is twist my hand to the right and I have a new pair of dice for my windshield.
KARMA POLICE #1: Barry'll do it too. So just calm down.
KARMA POLICE #1: OK, let's take a look. Fuck, Mr. Stark, have you even written any of these women?
MARTY: I'm gonna get around to it.
KARMA POLICE #1: And a couple of chicks have winked at you. Why don't you write them back?
MARTY: Fer Christsakes, they're either FOBs or Fatties!
KARMA POLICE #2: Man in your position can't be too choosey.
MARTY: Screw you. Eeep.
KARMA POLICE #2: Hand must've slipped.
KARMA POLICE #1: OK. I've seen enough here. By the powers that be and all that she hath created, yadda yadda yadda, access to match.com and all other internet dating services shall be denied to you. Access to your account shall be granted to Janos Wanoski, 55 year old recent Polish immigrant residing in Secaucus, New Jersey . . .
KARMA POLICE #2: He likes 'em really curvey. Loves those white trash chicks with the folds of fat hanging out between the tube tops and the low rider jeans. Reminds him of badly packed bratwurst.
KARMA POLICE #1: . . . and to Wah "Erwin" Chang, 28 year old seventh-year applied statistics grad student at U.C. Irvine, originally from the Fujian province, recent born-again Christian and huge fan of the TV show Coach.
KARMA POLICE #2: Yup, he likes his women FOB-ish and subservient. The worse the grammar, the better for l'il Erwin, if you catch my drift.
MARTY: Why? Why are you doing this to me?
KARMA POLICE #1: Pphhht. You know why. You have a novel to write.
KARMA POLICE #2: Plus you keep forgetting that match.com is just one tool in your belt, partner. C'mon, just talk to Borders chick or comic book chick. What's the worst that can happen? So what, you may get kicked out, but there's other Borders.
MARTY: Thanks for the vote of confidence. Ummmm, you mind letting go of my nuts?
KARMA POLICE #2: Whoa, sorry there. So, you're going to be good, right? OK, I'll let you up . . . Hey!
MARTY: Just let me check if HOTCHEMIST999 has logged on.
KARMA POLICE #1 tasers Marty. Marty shakes like an epileptic crack addict and falls to the floor.
KARMA POLICE #1: See, that's why Marty is single again. Man.
KARMA POLICE #2: I say we dump him naked at Borders, then get some chili cheese burritos.
KARMA POLICE #1: Chili cheese burritos are good. Sounds like a plan.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
I'll Find My Sanity When I Find My GloryI chopped twenty pages yesterday and wrote about two. I keep telling myself that I'll buckle down the next day, just sit and write for hours and hours and hours. But come the morning, I'm still groggy from the beer still in my system. I make myself some java and end up surfing the web for more hours and hours and hours.
If I didn't live in my own skin, I could tell myself follow the same routine I had when I was a lawyer - wake up at 7:40 a.m., get showered and dressed by 8:10, have my three cups of java, surf the web until 9:00 a.m. and buckle down until 8:00 p.m. But living in my own skin, I find that a lot tougher. When I was working in an office, I knew I had to be in the office or else no check. Now, I don't have to be anywhere. Plus, now that it's nearly three months since I left and I still have twice as much in my checking account than I had when I left the law the first time.
I guess this is a roundabout way of talking about motivation, to be more exact, my lack thereof. I should've been finished with my second novel by now instead of tearing it down and building it back up. I should be writing every single day.
There is a part of me, deep in that dark corner, that place where angels fear to tread, that thinks I'm not a real writer. Writers write everyday supposedly. Their muse is always there, whispering ideas in a neverending stream of creativity.
Then I think about my past. I think about Duke's creative writing program. Over 200 students submitted pieces of fiction each semester, only 15 were chosen. And just because you were chosen one semester didn't guarantee that you were accepted the next. I was chosen both times I applied. I take a look at this blog, and yeah, there's a lot of maudlin crapola in here, but there's some decent stuff in here as well. The Three Visit Barrier and A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action will make it in some form or another to the novel. And I think, OK, I have the tools. I just have to friggin' use them.
One of things that brings me down on a daily basis is this dip in the dating. I get on match.com and almost every profile reads "I need a man who is financially secure." Totally understandable - no chiqua wants a layabout mooching off her. But here I am, the checking account slowly draining, doing something most folks don't consider real work. I'm no mooch and have never been one, but try telling that to a chiqua as she deletes my e-mail. Now, the rational part of me realizes that I will not be happy with a woman who's bottom line in a relationship is money and work. That part also knows that L.A. is probably the best place to be a creative-type underemployed male (and definitely way better than Silicon Valley). Hell, there was a cute chiqua who e-mailed me while I was dating Bees Knees who thought it was really cool that I left the law to pursue writing. (Stupid me being a monogamous dater, cute chiqua was no longer a match.com member by the time the relationship with Bees Knees imploded.)
So, not all is lost. The sun is shining. I have some tunes on the headphones. Sigh.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Provider (Zero 7 Remix)"Writers block is the temporary paralysis caused by the conviction, on an unconscious level, that what the writer is attempting is in some way fraudulent, or mistaken, or self-destructive."
--Joyce Carol Oates.
I was going to power through the novel and do the editing afterwards. However, I've been stuck and unmotivated for the last month or so. I've read the Oates quote a while back, but it didn't really hit me until yesterday when I was at Borders. I saw the American copy of my favorite book. Since I made the mistake of lending my treasured original British paperback version to Bee's Knees and the American version is hard to find, I decided to shell out the seven bucks for a book I theoretically already owned. If I were to list inspirations for my style of writing, first and foremost on the list is Michael Marshall Smith (I usually say Nick Hornby to mixed company because he's better known). His writing is funny, violent, sentimental and very very snarky all at once.
Anyway, I was rereading a couple of my favorite passages while waiting in line and I realized how for off course I was with my novel. I realized the inconsistent motivations. I realized I included a character that was only there for my therapeutic reasons, but I couldn't see progressing the story at all. Then I realized I was going to have to trash about two-thirds, if not more, of what I've written. I realized that I was being fraudulent and self-destructive. So, today, that's the goal. Push out the jive, bring in the love as Mr. Burns would say.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Monday, August 04, 2003
you're a hero, you're a freak-ohFriday night, my buddies the Big Jew, Dubois and I got together at 217 down in Santa Monica. The place has always been hit or miss--either it's a nice place to look at the betties or it's a total sausage-fest. I hadn't been to 217 in a while. The last time I was there, there was some belly dancing function which is much cooler than it sounds. Sure, there were three gyrating scantily clothed-women of dubious morals on stage, but they were the only women in 217. Suffice it to say, I bugged out of there quickly the last time.
Anyway, I hadn't seen my buddy Dubois in a while. He'd been doing some contract work at a major BigLaw putting in long hours of document review, saving up the cashish so he could then follow his bliss--writing screenplays and producing flicks. Oh, plus his live-in has him on a short leash. This was supposed to be a long overdue boys night out.
My goal was just to hang out with the boyz, decompress, maybe (OK, definitely) check out the pretty babies. I've learned the hard way that, at least for me, going out with the stated goal of picking up some digits is a straight path to disappointment. The body language that's either too cocky or too unsure, the overly roving eyes, everything that signals desperation as the 2am last call comes closer and you haven't got the digits, boy does that raise red flags for the chiquas. I know that there are a lot of guys who can pull the rico suave, but different things work for different people. Me, I gotta go for the zen approach--not looking for digits, if it happens it happens. Body language is less tense and I don't feel like too much of a gumba. If there's someone I think I'll click with, then I'll talk to her. If there's no one, oh well. (And to the peanut gallery--yeah, I have approached women at clubs and danced with them, so keep those "yeah, I've never seen you talk to women at clubs" to yourselves).
I get to the 217 on time, which means I'm there fifteen minutes earlier than everyone else (damn Asian punctuality gene). At 10:00 pm, the club isn't too crowded and women outnumber men. So far, good sign. Then about ten minutes in, all these guys start walking in. A lot of guys. My buddies came in around 10:20 pm, and a group of slender model-types also arrived (unfortunately, not with my buddies). Among the slender model types was a lone Asian guy who was talking to this blonde a lot. At first, I thought "Hey, it's possible for one of the yellow bruthas to be pickin' up on the round-eye." As I observed the group further, I noticed he was the only guy among the hotties. I also noted that the hotties' body language toward the yellow bruthah was friendly, casual and not at all I want your hunky Asian bod. Either he was marked as "safe" or he was gay.
So me and the boyz were drinkin' and catchin' up on the haps. I'm the only guy outta the Mira Hershey Hall group who's not coupled (both the Big Jew and Dubois have live in girlfriends), and Dubois gets this idea that I should start mackin' on the pretty babies. I caught the eye of this one stunning woman with raven hair at the bar, but then I caught a gander at the bracelet she was wearing - a diamond studded black band that was worth more than my car. I looked away with a mad quickness. By the time Dubois got this idea in his head, 217 was packed (unfortunately, it was packed with more men then women). There was this one woman who I tried to make eye contact with, but she kept looking away. She was a dark blonde wearing a white beret, and a one-strap white retro-70s top with capri khakis. A friend of the Big Jew who joined us late called her "Britney Spears" in a derogatory way.
Anyway, it was about fifteen before midnight and the original plan was to bug, head over to the Circle Bar or World Cafe to see if the ratio was better. Then Dubois says hold on, and with horror, I watch him pull a high school move. One of the chicks at Britney's table went over to the bar. Dubois walks over to her, starts talking, then points over at me and point over at Britney. Fuck. Learning a lesson from a story the Big Jew told me about his pal a long while back (dull story, but good lesson which is PLAY THE FUCK ALONG), I say hi. The next thing I know, I'm buying the table drinks and having a conversation with Cindy (Britney's real name).
Cindy had an accent, a Guatemalan accent to be exact. How did I know? Because she said she was from Guatemala (that's what you get for asking stupid questions). Dubois loves Latin American accents, but he has a better shot with chicks from Latin America (his mother is black, his dad is Irish which apparently makes him sexy to women of all races but leaves us guys shakin' our heads in disbelief-- he just looks like a goofy guy with slacker fashionwear to us--the man also backs that up with game because he's able to follow the simple rule of listening to what a woman has to say and asking her questions about herself). Me? As soon as I heard that she was from Guatemala, I knew this wasn't going to go anywhere except for conversation. OK, this isn't low self-esteem speaking here. This is the realities of culture. You think some young thang who came to the U.S. with her family is going to be bringin' home a yellow brutha to the devoutly Catholic and traditional parent's dinner table?
Cindy invited me to sit with her. We talked for about fifteen or so minutes. We both kept up our ends of the conversation, so it was very easy and casual. Neither of us had to pull too hard to get the other to speak. I found out she was planning on becoming an American citizen in the next couple of months (another big yikes in my book), that she left school early, that she did billing for some doctor's office that had a lot of creative type patients. She wanted to go back to school to become a fully certified RN. She learned I was a lawyer taking some time off to write. When she went off with one of her friends to the bathroom, Dubois said, "OK Marty, tell her we have to leave and get her digits when she gets back." Well, he said that after saying, "OK, how cool am I, Marty? How cool am I?" So she comes back, and I make a couple of minutes more of small talk. Then I told her I have to go, and asked her if I could call her sometime.
She smiled and said, "Um, I'm married and I have three kids," putting up three fingers. I smiled back knowingly, and said, "You're a sweet kid. Nice talkin' to ya."
Yeah, she could be married and have three kids, and I could be the King of Siam.
Oh well. She really was sweet when we were talking, she was nice enough to invite me to sit. But c'mon, she could've thought of a better blowoff line.