Why I Hate Quotes (or, why I am a hypocrite)

I hate quotes. Clever quotes, funny quotes, people who only quote other people – especially on Social Media. (Or, maybe I just hate social media. Either way – shut up.) People who appropriate other’s words as their own, or who consider THEMSELVES the ultimate quotable – I’ve seen more than one email signature end with a quote from the email’s author him/herself. .


My nice, new(ish), shiny website opens with a quote from Anne Lamott, she who has written what I consider to be my Bible On Writing.

So that’s why I’m a hypocrite.

I saw Anne Lamott speak last night. She spoke of some things I couldn’t necessarily relate to – motherhood, spirituality; I am neither a mother nor particularly spiritual (thanks, six years of Catholic school).

Catholic schoolgirls rule.

But she also talked about never wanting to write. “You’ll never FEEL like writing,” she said. And the audience laughed. Because we know it’s true. The times you FEEL like writing are indescribable, a bursting of white-hot ideas and words and you MUST get to the computer or notebook IMMEDIATELY, before you lose it all. When you put something off like that and try and come back to it later, it’s always stilted and stupid and doesn’t sound anywhere near what you’d imagined.

But those times, in this era of constant emailing/blogging/work, are sometimes pretty difficult to find. By the time you’re all done with the emailing/blogging/work/whatever, it feels like you’ve already wrung every word out of yourself like a dish sponge who someone has now placed, damp and uncomfortable, by the side of the sink until it’s time to do the dishes again.

I don’t have much of a point here, I suppose, other than the fact that it’s quite obvious I’ve not written on these pages for more than a year, simply because I haven’t FELT like it. I also supposed that not FEELING like something is a luxury. We all have to do things we don’t feel like doing.

To either excuse or justify my hypocriticalness, I’ll just end with a quote from Anne Lamott:

“A writer paradoxically seeks the truth and tells lies every step of the way.”

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aloha, suckers

while all of you (well, maybe not ALL, but i like to speak in ultimates) were freezing your tushes off in january, i was drinking mai tais out of coconuts on the beach in hawaii, celebrating what would have been sailor jerry’s 100th birthday.

i cut them myself!  don’t you want to hear all about it? well, now you can! check out my filter sound escapes feature online here and in issue 43 of the mag, on stands now. (it looks really good in print, what with all the big, pretty accompanying pictures and stuff.)

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teenage wasteland

i’m not that knowledgeable about art. i mean, i know what i like, what’s aesthetically pleasing to me, but the openings i attend are few and far between and usually depend on how much free wine is being served. you’ll never find me standing in front of a piece, stroking my chin, and making grandiose statements.

don’t get me wrong, i DO enjoy art. but i have this problem. i want to TOUCH IT. especially oil paintings, where the brushstrokes are thick and gloppy and tactile. i want to run my fingers over them, feel their ridges, and think about the person who held the brush, if he or she felt the same way. i want to wrap my hand around a piece of sculpture, and squeeze it. see how cold or hot it is. how smooth or rough.

this, of course, is Not Allowed and many times i have been told to “step back, miss.” plus, we all know what happens to people who Touch The Art.

i guess this why i want to own artwork – so i can touch it as much (or as little) as i’d like.

one of my favorite artists is banks violette. i love his whole deal: the look, the attitude, the subject matter, the themes, the titles. i don’t want to say how it makes me feel, because that’s none of your business. but i really want to touch it:

ZODIAC (F.T.U.)/74 ironhead SXL, 2008-9

it makes me sad:

ghost and elyse marie pahler, from arroyo grande 7.22.95

it makes me scared:

untitled, 2005

it reminds me of being a teenager.

not yet titled (bergen chair), 2009

hate them, 2004

images via smashing magazine, art observed (zodiac), artnet (untitled 2005), team gallery (arroyo grande 7.22.95), todayandtomorrow (not yet titled bergen chair), the saatchi gallery (hate them)

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unknown, underrated, nowhere to go but up

white ring (and irma vep, too) – lxc999:

oOoOO – hearts:

everything about this is underrated, too:

<3 miami bass.

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homeward book bound

last week, i went to see craig mod speak in a lecture titled “post artifact book design thinking” at the school of visual arts. sounds pretentious, right? it, surprisingly, was anything but. sure, there were bespectacled, bearded, clarks-wearing, full-sleeved design students, but also a dude next to me who reeked of booze and kept burping, and an older lady behind me with one single grey braid who agreed with everything craig said – i know this because her “MHM”s and “AHHH”s almost drowned out the speech.

anyway, i was a bit worried that the lecture would be all over my head, font-this, typeface-that, but it wasn’t. craig – who, if you don’t know, is a writer, designer, publisher, and developer collaborating with flipboard, and a really good public speaker – lived in tokyo for ten years and opened with the concept of “furusato” – loosely translated, “native place.”

as most things japanese, this word – or even signifier – goes way beyond surface meaning. furusato is an all-encompassing feeling of HOME, of comfort and welcome and nostalgia all rolled up into a cozy down sleeping bag you never want to get out of. you can experience furusato in any context; it’s not limited to your literal hometown. while craig was busy relating furusato to the “artifact” of his discussion (i.e., “book”), i was busy just thinking about furusato.

i feel it in florida. i feel it in the south, a region i spent so many years of my life trying to get away from. when i was seventeen, i moved to california and mercilessly teased for my down-home sayings; “y’all”, “fixin’ to”, etc. i quickly learned that “you guys” and “i’m going to” alleviated this; besides, who cares, i hated florida and everything it represented to me at the time: repression, judgment, claustrophobia, ignorance. listen, i was seventeen.

but then something changed. it took a long time, but i started to actually love florida again. it was furusato. my bestest friends in california, they all turned out to be from florida. it was a certain sense of humor and cultural references, our childhood and manners and all that other stuff that bonded us like super glue. there’s something special about finding homes away from home. i guess that’s why i’m now writing a book set in florida.

more recently, i experienced furusato on a press trip to hawaii. so weird, right? like i love to lay on the beach and be all “hang loose, brah!” and get a hot tan. duh. ok, not really. but it was more than that. everything was exactly as it was supposed to be. i never felt out of place, awkward. i felt – like the title of the book about a man we were in hawaii to learn about, norman collins – homeward bound.

so i’m thinking about all this at the lecture, how the green hills and tiki torches and beach sounds of a place i’ve never visited before made me feel furusato. i was thinking about it in my head and it all sounded much better then; i should have written it down.

i caught up with craig again when he started to discuss the pre- and post-artifact system. in non-lecture terms, it’s like this: author → writing process → ARTIFACT (book) → stuff that goes into making a book → readers. he noted that there are four things that make up the pre-artifact stage: whiskey, self-doubt, self-destruction, and manic highs. a funny take on the writer, no? i mean, whiskey, ha ha, right? anyway! he talked about the breakdown between the pre- and post-artifact and how it was taking place RIGHT NOW, right this second, in a digital world where readers and their interaction with the author is becoming more and more important and NEEDED. it’s real-time fiction time, so to speak.

now, that erased any warm feelings of furusato i was starting to develop. hold up there, craig mod. we’re losing the idea of the writer in a darkened cave, churning out his craft; we don’t HAVE to be that writer anymore? readers are involved in the writing process. neil gaiman does it perfectly: “guys, i’m writing chapter seven, and i need an unusual vegetable. any suggestions?” seth godin. lots of others. and this is the way it’s going now.

is this a good thing, erasing hierarchies and ultimately producing a book that verges on collaboration with your readers? how amazing to be involved in your favorite author’s process, right? “i came up with that courgette!” you develop camaraderie, loyalty; you move artifacts. and let’s talk about that word “artifact” for a minute. i understand the purpose, the archeological ties, etc. but even calling a book an “artifact” removes all romance, all mysticism. it becomes a product immediately. i can’t fault craig completely for this – he DID point out in the lecture the tactile appeal of books, the smell and feel. yes, yes! i love my books. i can’t get rid of them. i’m almost a book hoarder – help, a&e!

(<3 edward gorey)

but ok, listen, back to interactive fiction. is this just a big mistake, another way of minimizing the value of the author, the writer, the art and the ideas? are you okay with balancing it out, like the stew of an mfa workshop: a little from student A, a little from professor B, a lot from that cute girl you want to impress? interaction also assumes, in my opinion, that this is something you’re doing with the ultimate goal of SELLING – because as i mentioned before, the more goodwill you foster, the more artifacts you will sell.

i want that writer in a darkened cave, with a typewriter even, but also feel forced to embrace the interactive. am i alone in my anachronism?

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open fangirl letter to max ernst

dear mr. ernst,

if i were to come across just one of your original pamphlets une semaine de bonté in a dusty old used bookstore…sigh.  do you know what i would do?  oh, i can’t even tell you.  i know you’re dead and all, but…

we’ll have musty tea that tastes like the books in the store smell, and when we dine and dash, you can come break me out of jail.

we could redecorate the house.  beat the rugs.

i imagine you’re a marvelous dancer.

i just wanted to say…and i hope you don’t think i’m too crazy, here…une semaine de bonté is the best graphic novel ever. luv u max ernst, you crazy catastrophic surrealist, messing with morality and christian heads.


carrie jo

(max ernst image via kunst presseschau)

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well hello, stranger

it’s been a while, no? how are you? i’m good. and i also feel really important. i got my first cease and desist! for “willful and unlawful infringement”! i love legalese, and i love that i apparently was WILLFUL.

watch me be willful right now:

it’s not really that exciting, is it?

well then. in other news.

just a reminder that i’m writing for red bull’s online mag, chinashop. go read my deep thoughts on sandals, nail polish, and what a girl wants. it’s fascinating, i promise.

in other other news, i just got back from hawaii.  your intrepid reporter (that’s me!) was on assignment for filter magazine, covering what would have been norman “sailor jerry” collins’ 100th birthday and all the festivities that went along with it. like pig roasts.

and beaches.

and bands.

and bad photos.

and a cut toe from a coral reef that is requiring me to get a shot at the doctor’s tomorrow.  but at least i got spiderman band-aids.

boy oh boy! article coming soon!

well, i guess that’s all for now. keep in touch, love ya like a sis, friends forever, thank you come again, etc.

(image via little black cart)

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and if you’re lucky, he’ll read you the news

hey y’all, i’ve moved! i now live in this place called crazyperson dogland. it’s way up the hill from crazylady catland, but don’t get it twisted – it’s nowhere NEAR dolphinsarelikehumansville, and not even in the same zip code as therianthrope crazyburgh. i’d get lost trying to find those two places, amirite?

anyway! my french bulldog walter cronkite has his own tumblr now: the daily walter cronkite. he posts a new picture or video every day. you should go visit and follow him. he really has alot to say regarding his likes and dislikes:  for example, he does NOT like to be bothered whilst sleeping.  he even got his own sleep mask to discourage any would-be sleep-interrupters:

now, go visit, quickly!  before someone hijacks your bus with a sharpened weretooth and drags you to therianthrope crazyburgh!

image via, duh, the daily walter cronkite

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inspiration #1

when i was a little kid growing up in gainesville florida in the 70s and 80s, two of my favorite places were the local library and the used bookstore.  my mom and i would spend hours at each.  the library was where i first learned what the “occult section” was, and how unhappy my mom became when she saw me sitting cross-legged in front of it, browsing true crime and vampire novels at eight years old.  i also memorized the dewey decimal system, and could find any book on any subject in one minute flat.

the used bookstore had a fountain in the middle of it.  it felt like some decadent oasis; books stacked and protruding like musty rock croppings.  everyone was silent, reverent – aging hippies in their bell-bottoms thumbing copies of  siddhartha, university professors with medical journals tucked under their tweedy arms.  i was obsessed with trying to find the oldest book in the store (something i also did at the country graveyard behind my memaw’s church, marveling that people were even ALIVE in the 1800s, let alone DIED then).  i once found a first-edition copy of the secret garden.  evidence no longer exists to support this claim, but i swear on that confederate soldier’s grave, the one buried behind the live oak baptist church.

the used bookstore was probably where i picked up my first copy of stephen king’s night shift.  “the mangler” was the first story i read, and i’m sure it contributed to my desire to sleep with a knife under my pillow.  although how i was planning on defending myself against a possessed hadley-watson model-six speed ironer and folder with a butter knife is not clear.

i discovered that in “the mangler”, as in all of his writing, king lacked author intrusion – which is, as john d. macdonald defined it, “a phrase so inept the reader suddenly realizes he is reading, and…he is shocked back out of the story.”  king had a talent for juxtaposing completely ordinary details with the totally horrific in such a casual, natural way: characters who wore sears slacks as the mangler sucked their arms into its gears; a jelly jar filled with holy water; setting the story in a random, small town – anytown, u.s.a.  it could happen anywhere, to anyone, and that was what scared me the most.

i wrote my first short story with an actual PLOT around the same time (the previous ones centered around my desire to own, ride, and/or groom a horse).  it was about a THING that lived in a river out in the country and ate people.  i wanted to be like stephen king.  i wanted to scare people, to create a world so believable, so ordinary, that extraordinary things weren’t out of the realm of possibility.  because if it could happen here, it could happen ANYWHERE.

i don’t (necessarily) want to scare people anymore.  but i still want to create that world.  and when i am filled with self-doubt, as all writers are, i re-read john d. macdonald’s introduction to night shift:

“compulsive diligence is almost enough.  but not quite.  you have to have a taste for words.  gluttony.  you have to want to roll in them.  you have to read millions of them written by other people….

“at this frangible moment in time i am typing these words on my blue machine, seven lines down from the top of my page two of this introduction, knowing clearly the flavor and meaning i am hunting for,  but not at all certain i am getting it.

“it comes so painfully and so slowly.”

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