Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Name Game

As you can see, I've changed my name again. Lately, I haven't been motivated to post anything because I didn't want this to just be a place for stream-of-conscious idiocy. Not that that's what your blog is like. Your blog's great...

A few posts ago, when I was justifying my 10 days of isolation, I said that I like to see what my mind and body do when they're put in uncomfortable positions. So I'm going to continue embarrassing and challenging myself. That way, I've got something interesting to document and it keeps me in a steady state of self-loathing.

Plus, the name "Uncomfortable Positions" will attract a new I probably relate to.

Next Tuesday, I'll have my stand-up comedy cherry popped at an undisclosed LA open mic. Ugh, the things I do for my blog reader. Singular. One. It's you. Now get back to work.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Medusa's on the loose-a

As I was driving into Echo Park (which is not a park, but a neighborhood), I saw a man who I assume was walking to work. But he wasn't walking anymore. He was motionless, standing on the corner of Alvarado and Sunset. He appeared to be mid-stride, a briefcase in one hand, looking straight ahead.

Remember "Awakenings" when all those catatonic patients are temporarily cured with doses of L-Dopa by the meek Dr. Robin Williams? I was really frightened for this man because I knew that no one had any L-Dopa in their car. that I think about it, he may have been doing Tai Chi.

Last movie I watched: Like anyone who had access to it, I watched "Brokeback Mountain" last night and was reminded that Heath Ledger's portrayal makes me think of my cousin Michael. I hope Michael's all right.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Indie Hearts Unite!

I'm in the middle of watching a killer Duke basketball game, so I don't have the RAM capacity to write the couple of posts I've been formulating. So instead, here's my Best of '07 DIY mix tape list. In order on the album, not necessarily in order of greatness.

1. Grip It Like Vice - The Go! Team
2. Who Knows Who - Orgone
3. Night at the Knight School - Thee More Shallows
4. La Esquina - Fredrico Aubele
5. Down in the Valley - The Broken West
6. Home - Great Northern
7. Lost to the Lonesome - Pela (album of the year)
8. Elephant Gun - Beiruit
9. Your 8th Birthday - Cloud Cult
10. Every Line of a Long Moment - Roddy Woomble
11. Like Castanets - Bishop Allen
12. Expectations - Cut Off Your Hands
13. The Race - The Heavenly States
14. Dashboard - Modest Mouse
15. The Burning City Smoking - Kevin Devine (technically '06, but really hard to get 'til '07)
16. Black Like Me - Spoon

Honorable mention: Peacebone by Animal Collective
Old song, new fan: Whiner's Bio by Mates of State, 2003
Best song you'll all hate: Ham Beats All Meat by Dr. Humphrey Bate from the compilation "Black and White Hillbilly Music"

Recent Movie: "Juno" I don't see what all the fuss is about. Nothing happens. Oh, I get it. The girl's snarky and I can relate to her eclectic punk tastes. Wazoo.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Coming Out....

Yesterday, I officially started taking calls and answering emails. Yes, I also watched my first--and last-- episode of American Gladiators. I'll admit, in the last few days there were a few hours where I did look at my MySpace page or actually hang out with a couple people. I still think that I did pretty well, considering it was 9 days and my social and entertainment blackout policy was unreasonable.

Now that I'm out, I'm a little disappointed that I can't go back in. Being an unemployed writer doesn't make every day a weekend. Every day is a weekday. Every hour, actually, to the point where I can never fully justify ANY action outside of working out, eating, and writing. So to announce to the world that I'm leaving all of it just makes my guilt much lighter. Of course, this is really stupid, because who are you in the end but stories your friends have? And the self-guilt is easier to put up with than my mother wondering why I won't take any of her calls.

Clearly, without my social life--physical and cyber--I go bonkers. Remember, though, that part of my isolation motivation was to do some introspection. I just took a walk and I felt like my right brain was examining my left brain and vice-versa. Like, I started smiling when the wind tickled my beard, and my left brain was all "that dude's crazy." One of my conclusions, therefore, is that sure I need all my friends, family, and my wife (Holla, Kristina!), but if I'm alone I keep myself really entertained. I'm glad I pulled out after 9 days, though, because another week of this and my two lobes would have been so enamored with each other that I would have been spinning like a top while they tried to get closer to each other.

I'm not so happy with the amount of writing I did while I was here alone. I still had the same urges to just pace the floor or suffocate myself with a pillow. Anything but write. I'm happy with what I worked on, but really I did as much as I would have if I had access to American Gladiators this whole time.

Initially, I wanted to conclude that I'm a terrible motivator and I can't focus on anything and I should probably be medicated or at least hit with a prescription mallet. But what about this: What if these results really mean that I've been working as hard as I can the whole few months I've been here? I got as much done in these past 9 days as I will in the next 9 days. Maybe I am motivated and I do work really hard every day of the week, even though sometimes I just tap my toes and nervously pull out my eyebrows. I like this idea because it means that while I am still going to be as neurotic as ever, I get to have whiskeys with friends and long walks with Kristina.

Speaking of, this is the longest time I've spent without Kristina since the overcast Seattle spring when I watched Saddam Hussein's statue get torn down. That was 5 years ago. I miss Kristina...and the years when America was an international sensation.

So here's to whiskey and webchats and Wii and wife. I'm glad to have you back in my life.

Another thing: I'm going to keep going with this blog. I didn't think I'd like it, but I was wrong. I'll just have to name it something else and come up with another theme. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting Out of Hand

I've now become so desperate for entertainment, that every scrap of paper is an impromptu art project. My water bottle makes for a percussion instrument. So, I've done what anyone would do in this situation: I've put in earplugs and pulled my hoodie over my head so that I can only see the computer screen. I'm sure even that won't suffice before the day is over. Soon, I'll mummify myself in medical gauze and scratch down my stories in the dark with a small piece of charcoal.

I think I have a problem.

What I miss: Large, non-fat, iced chai and an oatmeal raisin cookie. I don't know how it's possible, but this week-long crash diet has brought my resting pulse rate down from 61 to 49bpm.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Trembling with a capital "Tea"

You know that tingling sensation when you're just about to base jump or when you've mistaken non-dairy creamer for mountain-grown cocaine? I think I've done that with tea. Currently, I'm brewing my eighth cup of the day and the caffeine is making my teeth chatter and my nose run. I can't stop. Whenever I hit a snag--even a little one--in my writing, I look for some immediate distraction. Now that I've removed the traditional ones, I'm making them up. Like I said in my previous post, I am forced to find entertainment in the most unlikely places. Watching my plants grow, for one. Boiling water is another.

This brings me to my first solid theory in this two-week experiment: it's not the pull of the television, the internet, the phone, the sunlight, or the mail that takes me from my writing or a healthy lifestyle. It's my brain pushing my body away from what's difficult. I will say, though, that I'd rather be distracted by a tea kettle than a half-hour episode of Home Improvement. I don't know which is more detrimental, but at least the residual effects of the tea will wear off. Tim Allen will never get out of my body, like that nonstick chemical they put on pans. And, while I drink cup after cup of tea, I can continue to write. Hell, it probably makes my writing better! Now where did I put that non-dairy cocaine?

What I miss: Kristina, my LA friends, social drinking, and neon lights.

Stop imagining Tim Allen "getting out" of my body.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Things I've Been Doing to Kill Time

-Whitening my teeth, then flossing, then Scope-ing, then rubbing my gums with my finger.
-Finding hidden symbols in my wall hangings. I've found a lot of swastikas.
-Doing push-ups and sit-ups and lunges.
-Listening to Sufjan Stevens's album, "Chicago," over and over.
-Drawing pictures of eyeballs.
-Growing. I've planted cilantro and lemon grass, but I only had soil and no pots. So they're in little fiber cups that hang inside mugs so there's proper drainage. I'm also growing my beard. My lifetime record is a lousy two weeks, but I'm at 8 days now and it looks like I can do another 10 before Kristina comes home.
-Stroking my beard.
-Scratching my beard.
-Making guttural noises just to make sure my vocal cords still work.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What's the Time? It's Time to Get Ill.

Another "modern" convenience I've shed is time. All my clocks are unplugged or turned around or covered with a Post-It Note. The sunlight still comes in and the obnoxious junior high kids still walk past my window, so I have some idea. After the sun sets, though, I'm clueless. I've been basing my bedtime on when my eyes get so puffy that Mick might have to "cut me." That's a terrible mile marker because at that point the body's working on fumes and things start to shut down--like the immune system. This morning, my cold is back in a big way. Although I can't be sure it's the same one, can I? I might be in quarantine here, but I suspect my appliances walk around in the rain without a jacket when I'm not looking.

I'm dedicated to punctuality, probably to the point of damage. I base my actions on the hour of the day. Without these clocks, I don't know what time lunch is or how long I sleep. My best guess is that I've been going to bed at 2 or 3, getting up around 8:30 (the kids are walking to school, which gets the barking dogs' attention), and eating lunch at 2. Before, I would go to bed around 11, but get more sleep. And I'd eat lunch before noon, sometimes even 10 if I got up early. I don't know which situation's better--when I'm Pavlovian or when I'm negligent. Either way, I wake up sick.

What I miss: Looking at real estate online

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

...but I didn't enjoy it.

So I had a relapse this morning. I couldn't get my head straight, so I turned on the television sans remote control. Without the remote, I couldn't turn the channel from TBS. Three hours. It was all unsatisfying and gross, like that bite of Spaghetti-Os you take to reminisce about those great childhood meals. First on was "Wimbledon," which is so outrageously bad that it must have been bullied into theaters by the heavy-handed Penn tennis ball corporation. Then back-to-back episodes of Home Improvement. I feel so betrayed.

Today, I will be much better. Sure, I won't shower, won't dress, won't get any fresh air, won't dance, but I definitely won't turn on the tele. TBS is the straight double shot of Moutai that I don't ever have to do again.

What I miss: the gym

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Food is Great, but the Company Sucks.

In addition to this sudden isolation, I've decided to change my eating habits. Tonight, I had a mixing bowl full of spinach and greens. No dressing. If you don't know already, I don't eat salads. In the interest of science, I read and wrote while picking leaves from a bowl and cramming them into my gullet like Big League Chew. I feel my ancestor, Ghengis Khan (I've got a 1-in-200 chance! Look it up), is shaming me. Before I locked the door yesterday evening, I loaded my pantry with low-sodium, low-fat foods. This morning, however, I discovered that I didn't get brown sugar for my oatmeal. Oatmeal without brown sugar is like cramming spinach down your gullet.

I've still got a bit of the technology fever and I haven't moved past the "Negotiation" phase (I'll just take a peak at I don't know what step that is on Kubler-Ross's chart. How tragic that I can't just go to Wikipedia, else I could prepare for what comes next. I'm hoping it's "Gameboy."

What I miss: Watching television while I eat.

The Theme

I think I've already adapted to my self-imposed imprisonment. It helps that I've been prolific so far, and I'm reading (a luxury I have allowed myself. What do you take me for, a masochist?).

The book is a collection of essays about the (lowercase "p") poles. Ironically, my writing, my reading, and my current lifestyle all follow a theme of isolationism. The exploration of the uninhabitable ends of the Earth don't interest me as much as the mental fortitude expected from the people who entrench themselves in those US Navy-built yurts. Read the story of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic adventure. He left civilization in 1914 while European gentlemen were slapping their neighbors with dueling gloves. Months later, Shackleton's ship is crushed in the ice--he and his men marooned on a speck of sub-antarctic rock. After two years of eating penguins and lichens, he makes a dash for help in an open boat across 800 miles of white-capped sea. When he's found by the manager of a whaling station--his first contact with the world he came from--the manager tells him that, back home, millions are dying and the world has gone mad. What's his first thought? Does he think it's all his fault?

I'm only gone for a few days, and this apartment has a wall heater, but I am missing the New Hampshire Primary and a couple of Duke basketball games. Baby steps. At the end of all this, I'll have a lot of writing to show for it, but I think I'm more interested in seeing what lies in the cold, unexplored lobes of my brain.

What I miss right now: I can't believe I forgot to watch American Gladiators!

The Shakes

Holy God, this is terrible. While I try to write, my mind is negotiating with itself. "Just one game of Civilization III. That's not going to hurt. Then I'll quit." I really am addicted to stimulation! Forget living in that "19th Century House." I'd have a hard time surviving in a home from the 1980s, with nothing but books and basic cable and four square. I'm seriously starting to sweat and pace. I'm on my third cup of tea. I've written one page.
That is my intent, by the way. I'm doing this for the writing. While I generally dedicate my days to scriptwriting (I'm non-WGA, if you don't know), I'm always distracted. With Kristina gone for two weeks, I thought it'd be fun to make like Jeremiah Johnston. I was wrong. This is no fun. I miss direct sunlight.

I stopped the mail....

...which tells me that I'm serious about shutting myself off, because I adore mail. I've also hidden or taped over all the clocks, given Marc all the key components to my electronics, and I've turned off my phone. Of course, I still have the computer and my internet. I think this blog only works if I type and post in the moment, so I've allowed myself the luxury of the computer, but it's only for writing and posting purposes. It's going to be really hard not to check my email or track the pants I purchased across the interstate via UPS.
Oooh, cabin fever. I had forgotten that there was a word for this. It's only been about an hour since I started, and I'm already developing some nervous habits. I'm stretching my neck a lot, as if I'm about to start a marathon. I catch myself glancing at the television, as if I'm a dog wondering when my master's going to play with me. Spooky.