The Waco KidTonight we went to a friend's house and watched Blazing Saddles. This was the first time that I have seen it. I can't stop thinking about the gentle nature of Gene Wilder's character, the Waco Kid. He was so quiet and calm. His long stares, his confidence, his ability to shoot ten guns out of ten men's hands without even uncrossing his arms was strangely captivating. He provided a needed contrast to a movie that broke every rule, and went in several directions all at once. I remember secretly falling in love with him when he starred in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—different time, different age. He portrayed the same calm nature in both movies. It's not much, but it's the thought for the night.
Going to the post officeThis morning we woke up at the crack of dawn — 8:30 is the crack of dawn if you go to bed at 2:30 in he morning, believe me — and headed down to San Luis Obispo. On the agenda was a trip to the post office to send a package with the manuscript I just read, plus two homemade cookies, a weekend life-drawing class at Cal Poly, and some time at the Robert Kennedy Library for Evan to relax and read. The class starts promptly at 9:30ish, so we decided to hit the post office first. We pulled right up into the first parking space, like everything was going exactly our way. We shook the locked door in utter disbelief, discovering that the post office opens at 10:00. So, we counted our blessings, decided to grab a bite to eat across the street at the Metro Café, where breakfast is really the best thing they do, head over to the drawing class, then try the post office on the way home. After three straight hours of drawing a naked lady — excuse me, life form — I was starved. I found Evan. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the steps leading down to the library. We bumped into Justin Houseman. Then we made our way over to the post office. This story is starting to sound pretty dull, but it gets better. I slapped the package on the counter. The lady looked it over rather suspiciously and asked, "Anything liquid, fragile or perishable in this package?" I thought, "Oh, shit. Maybe Evan was right." When I sealed up the package last night, he said I probably shouldn't put cookies in the same envelope as the manuscript. I hesitated for a moment, then rather timidly I said, "Two cookies." With a boom of enthusiasm I would never have expected from a postal employee, she said, "I THINK ALL PACKAGES SHOULD HAVE TWO COOKIES IN THEM. That'll be $3.95."
Response to a friendI'm a little out of sorts today. I've been struggling with some personal things, ways to be a better person, ways to be more positive, ways to feel less like a victim of my insanity, and more like the product of the unique talent I've come to realize is a large part of who I am. I am also struggling with certain financial quandaries. Recently, someone who posts messages at the stevemartin.com web site emailed me and suggested, among other things, that I lighten up on myself, which is an excellent idea, except that if I lighten up anymore then I already have, there won't be any forward motion at all. I'm told that I should ask for help, but I don't feel terribly comfortable asking for anything while I sort through this insanity business, especially from family and friends, except for their patience. Evan, for example, is running very short on patience. The fact is: I already have a whole team of people helping me. You see, by now I should be a successful graphic designer. Instead, I'm distracted by — I might even say haunted by — an overactive imagination that sort of short circuits everything I do. The "talent" I mentioned above really amounts to constantly stumbling upon what I can only call coincidences. I'm told not to be too hard on myself, and I don't really think that I am. I feel that I am rightly disappointed that I am not operating at a higher level. Perhaps I should say lower level, considering that my insanity could very well be a gift. I can't really blame anyone for the way I feel. My actions are my own responsibility. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THE THINGS I DO.
As for Steve Martin, the truth is that none of us really knows who he is. It would be foolish of us to be drawn to his "sensitive nature" based on the movies he's starred in. In reality, he's probably just as confused and lost as we all are, though he seems to be doing pretty well with it. The message board serves as a place of enormous hope, and endless banter. We hope that Steve will acknowledge reading something we have written, thereby connecting us to him in some actual, if tenuous manner. The banter goes on and on ever farther away from the topic that starts it off. It's fun. It tests our wits. It makes us happy. But it does not make us in any real sense part of Steve Martin, or Steve Martin any more a part of us.
When I was crazy, I would sit down in front of the message board and read things into the messages as if they were placed there just for me. I thought someone was trying to communicate with me. I thought that I was someone special. Of course, I am special, but not in the way I imagined. I attached all of these magical happenings to poor Steve Martin. I thought he was the force behind my experience. I like him just as much today as I did then, but I know now that he is Steve Martin, the actor/author/comedian/art collector/aging man (sorry, Steve, but I gotta call'em as I see'em.)
The mind is a cruel judge, especially when the mind is disorganized and longing to live in a fantasy instead of embracing the beautiful reality that is life. I think I have a lot of work to do before I'll really be at peace with what I have somehow become. I'm sure I could hone my skills at giving and receiving love. There's always work to be done. It sounds strange, but throughout this whole experience, I have never felt more loved in my whole life. I know in my very heart that I'm not alone. I feel like I've become a part of something far bigger than life itself. Maybe that's just the insanity talking, maybe it's the truth, who knows? It's just how I feel.
Baking cookies and making commentsTonight I baked oatmeal/cranberry/pecan cookies while I finished commenting on a manuscript sent to me by a friend. She told me that she experienced something like postpartum depression when she finished her book and finally put it aside. I can only begin to imagine what she must have felt. Just finishing commenting on the novel feels like a part of me has died. I carried that bound manuscript around with me like a baby for weeks. Oh my God, this imagery has taken a really ugly turn, hasn't it! Now the novel is a stillborn child and... OK, look, sealing it up in a brown envelope and saying good-bye to it is like throwing away a baby blanket... God, I can't get away from it. Do you think it's because I'm menstruating? I included two of the oatmeal cookies in the package. I hope she won't be afraid to eat them. Why am I crying as I type this?
Dinner was a piece of cake tonightLiterally. We went to the Madonna Inn for a piece of Blackforest Cake and a glass of milk — Evan had a banana-layer cake and a cup of coffee. The idea was to have our dessert first in case we died on the way over to the Farmer's Market to eat dinner. As it turned out, we almost died on the way to the car from eating too much cake. We spent the whole Farmer's Market walking back and forth fighting nausea. Let me tell you, the Farmer's Market is not the best place to be fighting nausea. Between the big greasy sausage stands, the undercooked chicken kabobs, the crowds of people leaning over filthy trash cans with sauce-covered faces and half-eaten ribs in their hands, and the billowing smoke from BBQs stationed every twenty feet or so, the nausea got worse long before it got better. But we survived, and eventually ended up at Linnaea's for coffee and reading.
While we were still at the Madonna Inn waiting for our cake to arrive, we witnessed a sweet little exchange between our waiter and the people sitting at the counter next to us. They ordered a BLT to share and the waiter brought it on two seperate plates, each with it's own garnish. He approached them with both plates held out, looking back and forth between them. Finally, he asked, "Which of you had the BLT?" Humor is a tough discipline. The man replied, "Either one will do," as if he had asked, "Do you want the left half or the right half of the sandwich?" The rules are: If it's funny, we laugh. Well, we laughed, but his audience went on eating.
The babysitter can draw cartoonsThis morning I woke up and started seriously reading Quimby the Mouse by Chris Ware. If you've ever seen the book, you know that "reading" isn't quite the right word, more like absorbing. I've found that I have to take it in small doses, because the narrative is so packed with deep emotion. I've read and reread Jimmy Corrigan, and it gets me every time. Quimby is a little hard to follow, because the strips are so tiny. I haven't even begun to read the "text" pages that sport something close to a five point font. I checked Quimby out from the library along with In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman, that I've just glanced at so far. The librarian informed us while we were at the checkout desk that she had just ordered $4000 worth of graphic novels that she plans to put in the "Young Adult/Teen" area as a special collection. I sure hope she flips through the books before she solidifies that decision. I have a feeling she doesn't have the slightest idea what a graphic novel even is. While we were there, she said, "Yeah, I really want to write a graphic novel. I have a good idea for one. I bet my babysitter could do it. She's really good at drawing cartoons and things." Evan said, "It takes a year or more for a professional graphic designer to do one of these." She said, "Oh, it shouldn't take that long. I mean the story is partly about the babysitter." We've got a few ideas for a Formula 1 car that we'd like to race at Monte Carlo. We have a friend in Atascadero who's a mechanic. You know, this whole thing is starting to sound like a graphic novel without the illustrations.
Fucked up for a monthLast night I finally fixed fourdeadfish. I haven't been paying attention to the details, a problem I frequently encounter in my life. Tonight Evan looked over my shoulder as I was designing a business card and explained the subtle points of shape and metaphor. Tonight I paid close attention, and I think I actually learned something. Other nights I might have said something like, "uh-huh," and gone about the whole business in a haphazard way. I'm reading a manuscript — I just LOVE saying that, it makes me sound so hoity-toity — for a friend and the protagonist suffers from the inability to pay attention to those who are talking to her. I cringe when I read it, because I know that I suffer from the same thing. I've got a lot of work to do on myself. A LOT. This business of not paying attention to the details, or just not paying attention, has got to stop. I titled this entry "Fucked up for a month" because that's what fourdeadfish was. I can't even begin to describe how long I've been fucked up — anywhere from 12 months to 27 years. Okay, now I'm starting to sound NEGATIVE. Here's a joke I ACTUALLY made up myself. What was the city of Los Angeles experiencing when the smog alert was raised to the orange stage? A BAD AIR DAY!!!!!! Get it? Get it? Ohhhh, that's a bad one, I know. Okay. Off to bed.
One minute your bored...the next minute you have three things to do. A friend of ours hosts a sweet little blog called design*sponge and she emailed us to ask a technical question. Before I knew it, I was designing her a choice of banners that she hopes to exchange with the people over at treehugger. Evan is designing a few himself, which caused a happy little tension over dinner as we poked each other and speculated which design would be the best. I'm also in the middle of reading another friend's manuscript and commenting on it — no easy task. I hope to get it to her before the week is out. Then late this afternoon we heard a knock at the door. It was Matthew, a friend of Miss Pudas, who asked if I could do a flyer for him and "could I have it ready by tomorrow?!" So thats the jist of it. Justin always asks, "What do you do all day?" Well, usually I do nothing, but today I'm BOOKED. So, no chatting tonight, even though I haven't actually expended the energy to chat with anyone in a while. I need to work on that.
Oh damnDon't you hate it when you have an email exchange with someone and you flub up and say something stupid, then you can't take it back, because you didn't know you were saying something stupid in the first place? Then, when it's brought to your attention, you feel like an idiot, and the only thing you can do is pull up your bootstraps, or whatever they call it, and go about your day feeling like a total idiot? I think those who know me know that I end up feeling that way far too often, as I have a tendency not to filter out my thoughts. They say that's the reason they love me, but who could love a faux pasian nincompoop? One time I told a pregnant lady, "Well, you're still pregnant!" not thinking for a moment that I might be referring to a miscarriage. I thought I was just being jovial or something. ARGH. What am I talking about? This self-flagellation has to stop. Here, somebody else take the crop for a while.
I'm going to make some t-shirts today for Evan's kids. I always get butterflies in my stomach before making them because there are so many ways to screw up the whole process. They end up turning out fabulous, but I can't help imagining the worst. One person suggested it's because I wasn't nurtured as a child that I project a sense of gloom and doom into projects. That may be the case, but I'm not sure I'll ever know.
What if?What if we all have some sort of secret talent that's hidden deep inside us, just waiting for us to master it? What if the little events in our life are meerly just a preamble to the mastering of this talent, and that some day each and every one of us will figure out what our talent is? What if some people have no talent whatsoever? What if these questions are just a form of fairy tale, and life is really as dull as it seems?
Life isn't dull for Amie Barnett.
But life can be extremely dull at times. I just can't help thinking that there is something more out there for us. This is starting to sound so sappy. Leave it to a silly little movie to fill my head with such notions. Movies lately have a tendency to do that to me. Some of them hit me a little harder than others. But that may just be my overactive mind playing tricks on me, though part of me thinks that isn't so.
The shower is now cleanerBut unfortunately my eyes are watery and it feels like my nose hairs have been burned out of my head. I even opened all the doors and windows and that toxic shower cleanser has still permeated every pore of my body and the house. Maybe this is a lesson not to let the shower go as long before cleaning it. I have to say though, being as blind as a bat without my glasses on, I didn't even realize the thing was as dirty as it was until I reached into the shower to put in a fresh bar of soap. This is a boring little bit of minutiae, but for some reason, I felt I had to get it off my chest and that's what "blogging" is for, right? Do you want to hear about the scab on my hand?
Saturday NightAfter careful reflection, I think I've decided to keep my little desert escapade a secret, for now at least. Let me just assure you that it was magical and leave it at that. Tonight I attended a little get-together and the topic came up a few times about my "trip." I felt that the more I explained, the crazier it sounded and I DON'T want this event to be chalked up as one of crazy Amie's little fantasies, because the experience was very real. Let's just say that somewhere along the line, deep in my heart, I feel that I will earn the right to say to everybody I know, "I TOLD YOU SO!" The get-together was a hoot, by the way, thanks to Stacie's endless preperations and the lively discussion that ranged from The Deer Hunter to DeGrassi Junior High. I think a good time was had by all.
Al is curled up on his Target plaid dog bed next to his purple ball and a little plush squirrel which started out life on top of a candy cane. He's snoring. Oh Al, I love you.
Okay, more tomorrow, I suppose. Good night mystery readers. Sweet dreams.
Saturday MorningNote to self. Look up the artwork of Martin Kippenberger. I was gawking at the latest Taschen catalog, (gawking because my eyes were bugged out in the desire to flip through every last one of the books in there) when I stumbled upon some paintings of his that look so damned familiar. Maybe I've seen them in a movie? I don't know. I'll let you know, dear reader, which is thus far myself and a little mystery guest who found this site only twenty minutes after it's birth, once I figure it out.
Yesterday we went to Trader Joe's. It's always a treat to find interesting things to snack on the day after. For breakfast I had vanilla yogurt, soft laughing cow cheese, a roll with butter on it and a glass of grapefruit juice. Evan is now snacking on a Lingonberry scone, which I would be snacking on too, had I not forgotten that we bought them, and filled myself up with cheese and bread. If this were any other day of the year, I would just go ahead and have the Lingonberry scone too. Because, you see, it has been brought to my attention that I am a compulsive overeater. BUT NO MORE! A year ago today I was the thinnest I have been in years. It is a sad fact that TODAY I am the FATTEST I have ever been in my life. I can't even look at myself in the mirror it is so bad. Oh hell, I don't want to turn this into a crybaby session about weight. Let's just say that starting today — today is important for purely anniversial reasons — there will be no more overeating, no more potato chips, no more stuffing my face in an effort not to face my fears, or whatever the hidden motivations might be. I don't exactly have a plan yet, which is probably a bad plan in itself, but I know what NOT to eat — pretty much everything I have eaten the last year. Okay, enough about that.
One year ago today, I woke up just before the sun rose and decided to walk south. I had spent the night underneath power pole 22, as I mentioned before, and was on a sort of adventure. For some reason, the events that happened to me on this day I sort of want to keep a secret. It was nothing concerning aliens, nothing drug-induced or too terribly spectacular, but I feel like it was a little gift for my viewing pleasure, and my words couldn't possibly do the experience justice. That, and I fear that once I put the words down on paper, the experience can just be summed up as "psychotic," which, GODDAMNIT, it wasn't.
Maybe I'll have the urge later tonight to tell the story. Right now, I just want to hop in the shower and take a walk or something.
Power Pole 22One year ago tonight I was sitting under power pole 22, somewhere east of Needles, CA, waiting for something I to this day still can't really describe. I remember singing songs out loud so as to ward off any predators, which turned out mostly to be mosquitoes. I remember huddling up with my dog Al, watching the sky, waiting for a brilliant display of lights which might look something like Van Gogh's "Starry Night." I remember wondering, "What in the hell am I doing here?" But, mostly, I remember thinking, "Some day this will all make sense." A year later, it still doesn't make much sense, but I can say with authority that the things I experienced out in the desert, the thoughts and feelings and gestures and glances and communications that I experienced, either as a sort of psychotic breakdown or as something magical, were things that were not of the world as I used to know it. Now, it sounds like I'm rambling, and I may be rambling because the emotions on this anniversary are all stirred up inside me and it's hard to make them too terribly coherent. Part of me wants to step outside in the cold night air with my dog and look up into the sky and see if the answer is still waiting up there for me to snatch it out of the air. The other part of me wants to bundle up in bed and be thankful that the wind isn't whipping up through my jacket making me freezing to the bone. Despite the discomfort of the evening last year, I did manage to get a few hours sleep. The most magical part of my crazy little journey actually takes place tomorrow, and I'll write more about that then, but for now I think I will just be thankful for sanity, flannel pajamas and dreams. My whole experience was a sort of dream. It's really hard to put a finger on it, and I'm starting to repeat myself here, so I think I'll end by saying good night, and thank you, whoever you are that made my little dream trip possible.