Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nostalgia No More: A Post-Post Musing

The problem with dropping such a big bomb in my last post is that no other post can possibly live up to it. Those of you tuning in to see if I'm now pregnant with Brangelina's two-headed love child or am actually a 6'2" black man cleverly disguised as a dyspeptic, kind-of-white female poet living in Utah or that I'm actually the blogospheric beard for a young lesbian trapped in Damascus will just have to be satisfied by posts on bad Santa Cruz food and more travel preparations. Anyone actually following this blog may be wondering when, in fact, this travel will actually start. "Get ON with it," those readers are probably muttering, and I have to admit, I'm starting to feel the same way myself.

So, to make me feel as if I was at least one step closer to my Year of Self-Indulgence, I went to see this summer's Film of Self-Indulgence, a.k.a., Midnight in Paris.

The fact critics have been calling this Woody Allen's "best film in years" and a "charming romantic comedy for women" shows a) just how bad Allen's films have been in recent years and b) just how much we hate women. The visuals are stunning (hey, it's PARIS), but the movie is the same bruxism-inducing formula Allen (post-Farrow) has perfected: neurotic but supposedly sympathetic male writer struggles to love utter bitch of a girlfriend/wife, is plagued by creative impotence, flirts with potential infidelity with a fantastically unreal female muse, experiences collapse of nostalgic dreams and loss of fantastically unreal female muse, ends film with ego happily assuaged by arrival of more nubile, barely legal, new girlfriend.

Sound familiar?

As I was dozing off to the soothing whine of Rachel McAdams, it struck me that one thing Allen did get right (besides the Ernest Hemingway spoof, which is, actually, hilarious) is that nostalgia is ultimately a loser's game. We are all living in the best imagined times of SOMEONE else's dreams, including--as we age, perhaps--our own, and that maybe the best thing to do would be to take better advantage of the "cultural history" in which we are currently flailing and sulking. In other words, carpe diem, folks. It's a bumper sticker with Robin Williams' face permanently attached to it, sure, but it does still carry a certain resonance.

Which made me realize that I am NOT just traveling in the future, I am traveling now. And I am traveling quite a lot this summer (though admittedly Cleveland for a week-long writers' conference may not be anyone's idea of a hot-spot destination). I'm living in Santa Cruz and traveling to Napa and San Francisco, I'm traveling to Seattle and staying in Port Townsend for another writers' conference. So instead of writing about myself traveling ONLY in the future, I'll also be posting about my travels in the here and now, which may assuage some of your readerly concerns and my own impatience to just GET ON WITH IT. Here's me, getting on with it. Complete with photos. As this post unspools, please enjoy these photos that I have taken with my own camera and struggled to upload onto my constantly disappointing new IPad in the ever-unspooling Delightful Present. (A caveat: though I've spent the last three years writing about photography for this weird book that's coming out in November, I'm not actually a photographer. Please abandon all hopes. These won't be very good.)

So, first off: what does one do when one is in Santa Cruz? First, one goes to the beach.

Next, one admits to one's friends and family on the internet that one has been married secretly to someone, maybe like this guy, for over 18 months.

Next, one buries said husband in said beach. One builds him a Sand Body.

Yes, sadly, that pathetic strand of kelp is meant to be pubic hair. Next, one laughs about this with friends.

Next, one entertains oneself at home. Because Santa Cruz, while having this:

it still doesn't have great restaurants. (Yes, I know the photo is sideways, but fucking Blogsy--which I had to download just to get this crap UP, isn't easy to navigate for these types of fine-tuning details, and the IPad in general is MAKING ME LOSE MY MIND. But back to my story.) Home, however, has this:

And, most importantly, this:

Finally, overcome by sun and sand and the evening's many syntactic entertainments on cable, one gently calls one's beloved a cunt-eyed cocksucker, and trundles off to bed.

And that is what one does while traveling in Santa Cruz. If anyone would like to suggest something else for me to try in Santa Cruz--remember, I'll write about it for you and even take photos!--I'm open. I would like to finish this post-post with a shout-out to amazing Dr. Michael McNett, who recently back-channeled me (how filthy that sounds! I think it's an expression from Deadwood!) to ask me to learn to play the Dan Bau, a traditional Vietnamese music instrument that has only a single string. A single string! Thank God, because I can barely handle ten fingers as it is. Michael is doing his own traveling soon, as he'll be in Beijing from August to October learning acupuncture. Michael: give me your blog address! Michael is the kind of wonderful doctor (and human) who goes to other countries either to help medically relieve their citizenry there or to learn something there that will help relieve our citizenry here. He's the kind of guy who, for fun, makes jewelry whose entire proceeds go to orphanages in Nicaragua or Honduras, and who makes people like me who travel to exotic places just to gain ten pounds and buy cheap sneakers look like shit. Thanks, Michael! I'll be thinking of you while sitting in Hanoi, surrounded by egg rolls, plucking my one-stringed instrument. (How filthy that sounds! I think they did that on Deadwood!)

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this image.

Doesn't it make you want to travel? I mean, if any photo in the world would make you want to run, it's probably this one.


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  2. Paisley, you should go downhill mountain biking in Santa Cruz! And of course, write about it. -Rona

  3. Whoa, back the truck up. "Over 18 months?" When M & G updated me on your FB status, I said I *thought* I had heard you slip and call Sean your husband several months ago... was I correct? This didn't just happen? (in case you're wondering who this is... pt cruiser plays xbox and makes good cocktails...)

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  5. Thanks for noting the misogyny of this (and plenty other) Allen films (although I loved Vicky Christina Barcelona)--I have pretty much stopped saying it, because it seems to harsh everyone else's happiness with MiP. Oh well.

    but YAY for writing about travels here and abroad! Keep on posting those pictures!

  6. Reposting this due to catching a grammar issue.

    Hey PT Cruiser (I LOVE people's blog handles. If I didn't know who you were already, I'd assume you were my mother, who actually DOES drive a PT Cruiser). First off, you heard right--and it was a good thing Sean didn't catch you catching me out that night, otherwise I would have owed him $500 sooner. It's true: we married about 18 months ago but swore we wouldn't tell anyone, because both of us hated the public aspect of marriage, which we thought fetishized the social meaning of what to us was largely a practical, legal document. We agreed that the first person to crack and tell people would owe the other $500. Thus the last post's heading. But what came out of all our relentless discussions over the past three months was the fact that both of us were feeling there WAS something weird and discomfiting about hiding this, that we weren't and never could be just a legal agreement, and that our refusal to publicly acknowledge what in the end was primarily romantic for us (outside of Sean being British, there really is no financial, familial or medical reason--as yet--to do this) might be a form of emotional dishonesty that would only be exacerbated by our separation. At the risk of seeming unreliable as a blogging narrator, I decided to "out" our marriage in the manner that I did, since admitting we are married would cement our commitment in the ways only public ceremonies--irritatingly--seem best at achieving. To me, saying this out loud to Sean in front of however many faceless others WAS our wedding. However, what has surprised me most this week was that all along I thought OTHER people needed this statement to see our commitment as valid or clearly defined. It turns out it was exactly the opposite.

  7. EIGHTEEN MONTHS? You pair of poo-heads. Still, it was worth it if only for the terrific piece of writing that was your last post.

  8. Ha. It was actually a moment where I think you were talking about taxes, and made some indirect reference to Sean as your husband, and I thought that either you meant it in a generic way, or else you guys had always been married but I didn't know it. Either way, I just poured another cocktail and kept my mouth shut. Mostly because I hate asking about something that perhaps I should have already known, and thus outing the fact that I'm often an inattentive listener. Was this bet tied to the buy-no-clothing bet? Always wondered why there didn't seem to be a component of something Sean had to hold out on...

    Oh yeah, and pt cruiser is my gamer tag. Actually, it's pt cruiser gold, since pt cruiser was already taken. You should see the mad respect I get in the online games with 14 year olds.

  9. This wasn't tied to the no-buying-clothing bet, which Sean essentially lost because he kept giving me "free buying days" when I was pissed off at work. I actually think I kept spending MORE during that bet than I would otherwise.

    14 year-olds like pt cruisers, huh?

    And to Rona: I'm going to look into renting a mountain bike soon. Will write about mountain biking downhill now. Is this the type of mountain biking where I have to have nearly flat tires because I'm racing downhill, or can I just go mountain biking and save myself the additional and inevitable medical expenses?

  10. 18 months! While some of us clamor, some are clandestine. (You should have seen NYC Pride; Cuomo got a hero's welcome.) I'm happy to know that your marital status didn't change the upstairs-downstairs duplex arrangement, an aspect of your relationship that I've always admired. Thanks for the MM shout-out -- I agree that he's pretty special.