Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Figuring it Out.

Oh hi, whoever's reading this. I'm having another existential blogging crisis. Ever since my soon-to-be-ex husband told me that he uses my blogs to keep tabs on me, I've stopped updating them, but I'm working on not letting that stop me.

When he was breaking up with me, he told me that he didn't think I would ever be successful, but that if I ever was, he would regret not being able to experience it with me. Looking back, I realize that those are the words of a frustrated artist who didn't dream anything for himself and looked to me as the only possible source of "realization" in the relationship. But understanding that doesn't take the howling pain of those words away. Even when I was doing well, he didn't have that many great things to say about what I was doing (though all of my friends tell me he would trump me up to them, cartoonishly grandiose).

I had lots of very positive feedback from my friends about my writing, including my essays on this blog. He said that all of my stories were just "negativity", and that I should just move past whatever it was I wanted to write about, and that certainly stuffed a sock down my throat.

I've had a couple of friends express that talking about our relationship in a public forum like this blog is unfair to him, because readers only get my side of the story. To them I say, this blog's name is not "All Sides with Ann Fisher", even though I kind of look startlingly like her. Wow. If he wants to start a blog about how he married someone he wasn't attracted to and how it destroyed his life in such a way that he had to destroy hers in one of the most malicious ways possible, then yeah. Find a platform and do it and let the world read all about it.

At the time I started this blog, I named it "Better Living Through Squidulism" because at the time, I was having more fun in life by embracing "squidulism" (my Dad's word for "silly mischief"), than trying to button up and conform. I was kind of hoping that the blog would document my rise to success and serve as an inspiration to others. I don't have that sense of silly mischief much any more. Maybe it'll come back, or maybe it's something you lose when life has sat on your face and farted one too many times. But there's no way in hell this blog could ever be inspirational to anyone, seeing as now I'm a huge failure. I thought about changing the name of the blog to "Life Advice from a Huge Failure", but they say to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. "Hear it From Me, A Super Winner" might do.

On the "Super Winner" tip, I have finally, after eight months, landed an apartment. Sure, the neighborhood kind of sucks, the smoke alarm out in the hall has been chirping since I moved in three weeks ago, there are roaches galore, the oven doesn't work, and the sink leaks at near-Niagara levels into the cabinets down below. But I'm not sleeping on someone's couch-- I'm sleeping in my own queen-size, now, surrounded by my fat furries and occasionally someone else. So that's kind of a come-back story, I guess. I'm still scared, though. Ever since I quit my job to move with my then-husband back to Ohio, I haven't been able to find a permanent job, nevermind one that pays as well as my beloved one I left. Currently, I'm on a temp-to-hire basis somewhere nice, but at a $13k/year pay cut. My credit is like an offering of cold baked beans on a paper plate to any potential creditors. Things have to improve, don't they? I'm not sure, but I hope so. That's why I'm going to forge ahead with the writing. I don't have a plan or a theme, but a friend recently wrote me to tell me she wished I would write more, and that kind of put a "bug in my butt" -- a phrase that should be sent to the electric chair.

So yeah. In regards to blogging, I still have a lot of unresolved issues, such as, "Does Blogger suck?" "Is Tumblr better?" "Do people read blogs?""Do I care if I have a following? Do I care about growing it?" "Will any of these writings prevent me from finding employment/love/some other reward?" "Will my writing embarrass or alienate older relatives?" "What's the point?" The "what's the point?" question plagues me in all aspects of life. Why you should want to read what I write is beyond me because I'm full of negativity, apparently. But maybe you get off on that. Plenty of people still read The Bell Jar. This is a blog for people that want to read essays from someone who is the personification of Gummo, with periodic inter-splicings of "Toonces the Driving Cat."

Look out!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Next Move

My friend and I are doing what we call "dueling laptops", where we get together somewhere (currently, her fresh, brand new apartment) and ignore each other in favor of whatever work we have to get done. She just showed me the above video and I keep laughing to myself about it, breaking our friendly silence. 

It'll be our last time doing this for awhile (probably a long while) because I'm going back to Chicago. In this weather? Yes. I guess the fact of the matter is that Winter Chicago feels more like home to me than L.A. 

But I'm going to Cali it up my last few days; my dueling laptops friend and I are hiking Griffith Park in a couple of hours, and then this weekend some friends and I are going camping in Big Sur. 

And then... back to Chicago. All those winter clothes I thought I was saying a permanent good-bye to will reassert themselves in my wardrobe for at least the next 4 months (as long as I've been in L.A. --- woah.) 

What I'm looking forward to most? The vegan donuts at New Wave. Here. I. Come. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Little How-To

The neighbors here are characters. One is a 50-year-old actor with twinkling blue eyes who mostly plays cops, he says, and he definitely looks the part. All the time he whiles not acting by going around in his pick-up truck, loading in junked furniture to sell on Craigslist. He's quite ingenious with how he repurposes cast-offs and has built an entire, enclosed back porch off of his apartment using pallets and fishing nets.

Another is a sweet, gentle, 70-year-old, retired grocery store manager who gets up at dawn every morning to go surfing. The third is his equally sweet and gentle brother, who was recently released from an institution and spends his time counting how long it's been since he's picked up a drink (63 days, at last report).

I was sitting on the porch rueing my situation when the surfer, Roland, came by. He told me about how his ex-wife had served him divorce papers and her father, for whom he worked, fired him the same day. All of a sudden, he had absolutely nothing, so he bought an old VW bus to potentially live in, in case he couldn't find a job quick enough to stave off homelessness. His message to me was that situations don't last forever and things change - though as a person who lives on the edge, budget-wise, he's never found a reason to get rid of the van.

Roland, the actor, and the brother all seem to flirt with possible homelessness. One of their favorite topics of discussion is The Homeless Life and how to make it comfortable and workable. Here are some of Roland's favorite tips:

1) Get a van, and never, ever get rid of it.
2) Have as few material possessions as possible so you don't have to worry about leaving them behind if you have to. Roland's apartment features a guitar, a lawn chair, and two bedrolls, one for him and one for his brother. The actor affectionately calls Roland's apartment "The Yoga Studio" on account of its spartan decor.
3) Park your van on neighborhood streets that don't have street-sweeping days, but re-park your van regularly because residents will complain.
4) Get a gym membership. There's nothing being fit can't make better, including homelessness, plus there's access to showers, bathrooms, and A/C around the clock.
5) Get a library card. You'll have a lot of time on your hands, and there's no better way to spend it than by educating yourself.
6) Become a McDonald's regular. One cup of coffee buys you Wi-Fi for as long as you can stand to sit there. The three neighbors go to McDonald's almost every day for post-prandial coffee and cookies, and have come to know all of the homeless people who regularly spend the day there on their laptops. One, Allison, will spit if you come near her and yell, "I'm a happy millionaire! What the fuck is your problem?", but the neighbors insist she's all right.
7) Get a dog or a gun, or both if you "want a little bite with your bark."

Comforting notes to receive, when I, myself feel very close to the edge. It could be worse, but at least there'll be Wi-Fi.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I Might Be A Monster, But You Already Knew That

Me in my much-loved, Uncle Joey/comedy blazer. 

Writing is one of the few things that keeps me sane, and blogging is one of the things that keeps me writing. Even though I haven't been feeling particularly inspired lately, I dog myself to keep it up, just to keep myself in writing.

Lately I've been waxing nostalgic for my old fashion blog. Even though I don't participate in fashion forums anymore, I still take pictures of my outfits near-daily and put them in a private Picasa album, as sort of a visual diary. Details of the day are so easy to remember when I can put myself in my own shoes, not to be too punny, and there are so many stories behind every piece one has on that blog posts virtually write themselves. The sociopsychological aspects of self-adornment is something that continues to fascinate me, along with fashion history and its cultural implications and my blog was a great way to explore that.

There were many reasons I put it aside; one of the main ones was that in trying to keep up with my peers, I was filled with object-lust that, as a poor person who is not terribly handy, I could not sate. It was driving me crazy. I felt like I had to have the newest, best, most fashionable objet du jour or I wasn't doing okay.  Another reason was that I was starting to get solicitations for sponsored posts, and even though I enjoyed the cache of being asked, the practice of it made my fantastically self-expressive space seem spammy. It just smacked of ugliness to me. The third reason was that I was mysteriously gaining weight (apparently I have a thyroid problem), making my long-time body dysmorphia problem (a reason I started the blog) get worse (along with my soon-to-be ex-husband's frequent picking apart of my appearance, but that's a whole other post).

On the topic of body dysmorphia, I'm not sure if I actually have it because there's a piece of me that holds out hope that I am not a total monster and if I just "act normal", I'll be accepted by the millions of mystery people looking down their nose at my body that resembles biscuit dough creeping out of a freshly-popped Pillsbury can. Though there is an equal part of me that says, "It's not dysmorphia if you're actually hideous," then it's just being realistic.

I realize that looks aren't everything. There are lots of people out there who are sporting esoteric and unconventional body features, including those who are missing limbs and everything else that are living far more strident and passionate lives than myself. I wish I could stop being so hung up on my appearance, and just come to grips with being an unattractive person and move on, or pump myself full of hot pink bravado and tell myself that I tout my own special, unique brand of misshapen sexiness that probably many people would enjoy despite themselves. Buy colorful, impractical lingerie to show that I love myself and turn the charm up to 11.

I want someone to do the work for me. To tell me I don't need to lose weight or grow my hair long or shave my legs, that they find my body a piece of art that they cherish. I crave to know that someone I love feels that way. Any piece of wisdom would say that I have to be my own lover -- either "first", like other peoples' adulation is a prize for unlocking the psychic door of self-love, or just in general. Love thyself. Is that a Bible quote? Whatever it is, it feels like saying, "Be your own spoon." Pull a rabbit out of a hat. Pull a chain of scarves out of your ass.

So I'm going to try to do things that just make me feel good in general and hope my body image follows along. Writing is one of those things. And I might use a picture of myself and a discussion of what I'm wearing to prompt it.

(Oh my god, I just realized this entire post is an apology for putting a picture of myself on my blog.)

Here's to slowly working on building my chain of ass-scarves.

Friday, September 12, 2014


image via square america

I'm at a crossroads. I've been in L.A. now for two months and I haven't found a job. Every second that I don't have a job is like one big, agitated sigh. I've looked back on this time and wish I'd packed it with more fun -- the kind of fun an unemployed person has, right?

But I've been completely consumed with a) finding work, b) finding a place (which is now on the backburner if I don't have a job... every place wants your last two paychecks before you sign), c) grieving my relationship, and d) missing my Ohio people.

I'm starting to get worried -- I've been here nearly two weeks past when I said I was going to leave here. Where should I be? When I think of a tranquil place, I think of the extra bedroom in the house my husband and I most recently moved into in Ohio. I painted it lavender. There was a big landscape on the wall and a beautiful view out of the windows. I had my computer, a forest green leather couch, and a filing cabinet with all of my craft supplies organized inside, for once. The cats would sleep on the back of the couch, in the sunlight streaming through the windows. I would read The Artist's Way and cut up old books and magazines.

My older brother told me, "Follow your bliss," not meaning your manic dreams that put you in a lather, but your sense of "good and right"-ness (as my father would call it). You don't have to seek to have an awesome situation, because a copacetic one is just as rare and plenty good.

When I think of a place I last felt successful, desirable, and fast, I think of Chicago. I loved what I was doing there. I have a lot of friends I miss there, too. Their public transportation gives this car-averse woman the thrill of independence (except when waiting for the bus, in the winter, at night). I made a pros and cons list between LA, Chicago, and Columbus, and Chicago came out on top with the most pros, and the least amount of cons. So I applied to two positions in Chicago.

Now there's a possibility of a job here. It's located in Hollywood, which is where I'd be living if I choose to stay. I could maybe walk or ride a bike to work, even in February - imagine! And I could be having the kind of fun an employed person has - right?

So where should I be?

My brother also said that he found a lot of satisfaction in surrendering his path to the "flow". He said ever since, it feels like his life is like riding a bicycle downhill. My dad said something similar, in his trademark religious jargon, about giving myself up to God's plan.

I feel like I have nothing left but to do so.

I'm going to, to the extent that I'm able, set myself like a leaf on a stream and exert very little effort. To let life carry me aloft and find the path that feels most like riding downhill. I just hope the slots pay out before my unemployment dries up...

Monday, September 8, 2014

What am I going to do?

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I've been pretty silent lately, which is what I tend to be when I'm full of turmoil. I'm on the tipping point of trying to decide whether to stay in California or not.

It would help if I were having the time of my life, but one's heart stays broken no matter where they are on the map. Not to say I haven't been having a pretty good time. I'm turning myself into a beach person with the help of large hats and dangerous levels of sunscreen application. I've got freckles where I didn't know I could freckle.

Currently I'm living with a high school friend in Santa Monica. I was in Los Feliz before that (hipster 'hood) and East Hollywood before that (just hood). Been working lots on my copywriting job, going to interviews and not getting anything out of them besides experience wearing a blazer and heels.

I'm missing my friends and my dad and in-laws, and much to my anti-materialist leanings, my stuff. Boy do I miss my stuff. And my cats. I also miss the mega-convenience of public transportation in Chicago and the chillitude of Columbus.

I haven't dipped my toes too far into the world of entertainment out here, just a few open mics here and there, but it doesn't seem like enough for me. I'm wondering if my performance boner is on the permanent wane or if it's just lying dormant for awhile. Writing, however, still gets me (as it has since I could first pick up a pen and do it), and I'm not sure if LA is the supreme writing climate. Chicago has so much to offer there: ready and willing sketch groups, non-scary theater rental prices.

I could pretty literally do anything with my life right now. What am I going to do?