Monday, June 29, 2015

Mini Movie Monday!

This video is a humorous look at how to make traditional graduation ceremonies fun to watch. This is Carroll High School's Class of 2012 that got nailed on this one. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hurricane Saturday, Fort Wayne, Indiana

I woke up around eight or so today. I usually don't wake up that early. I couldn't get to sleep, and I didn't get to sleep until after four a.m., so I wasn't planning to stay up. But that wind! I had my window open and I looked out to a continual wind that was coming from the northeast, then seemed to change direction, without slowing down. I closed my window a bit and went back to sleep.

I had an appointment at noon, so I woke up a bit later, and didn't think much of the wind. I drove out to Jefferson Pointe, then decided to go back into town through West Central.

Holy Shitstorm! It looked like a hurricane/tornado/typhoon had struck. I took several pictures of the destruction. Feast your eyes!

I am tired of the term "stormnado" so I am calling it Hurricane Saturday, since that's what it felt like and that's what day it was on. I didn't have to go into work until later, so I went out and got storm pictures. I wasn't the only one.

This first pic is on a side street just off Wayne. This is an apartment building with a tree uprooted.

One of two cars I spotted which were damaged, but this one was absolute toast. This was on West Wayne Street, in the West Central district.

This tree fell across Wayne Street. 
The gentlemen on the porch are Richard Martin and Mickyle Esselman. The windows just beyond the top of the tree are their bedrooms.

These windows are the bedroom windows of the gentlemen on the porch.

Another uprooted tree.

Jefferson Boulevard.

Also on Jefferson Boulevard. 

Uprooted tree at Jefferson and College Streets.

Corner of Nelson Street.

Nelson Street.

Entrance to Swinney Park, looking East.

Entrance to Swinney Park, looking North.

At the Swinney Homestead.

Also at Swinney Homestead.

All three above from Swinney Homestead.

Jefferson Boulevard just East of the Swinney Tennis Courts.

The second car to get it, only not as bad.

Same car, different angle. West Wayne Street.
A close-up of the smashed blue car from earlier.

Uprooted tree, West Wayne Street.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

High School is Not Over...

Today I stood up for a fellow former classmate on our high school class Facebook page, and was told by yet another fellow former classmate, "no wonder no one liked you in high school."

Dear Mark Z. You are the reason I love and hate Facebook. Thank you and fuck you very much.

In other news, I just may have written a proposal for my first indie film.

Ah, fuck it, Class is over. Time to celebrate. Too much drama today from a person I don't even know. And that's a huge reason why I never attended the reunions until five years ago. With classmates like these, I really didn't need any enemies. But not all of them were like know who you are... :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Possible Experiment

I had an idea for a possible experiment. I ran into a former classmate at the Cinema Center, and ran the idea by her. She writes a 'zine, and said it could make for a good article. "Do it!" She said.

"Just don't get murdered."

I don't plan on it, but if I did, that would make for a damn good cautionary tale, wouldn't it?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mini Movie Monday

This is a commercial for fake medicine. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Workplace Hilarity

One of my co-workers told me about a day where our department was swamped and it was very busy in the store. Someone at the front desk decided to yell over to our department instead of getting on the phone. He yelled, "hey, do we have any big black caulk in a tube?" A nanosecond later, he realized what he'd said. "You should have seen his face," said my co-worker.

But I laughed so hard at the "big black caulk" in a tube comment. Because it sounded like "big black cock in a tube" and I laughed so hard, I nearly started crying and almost peed my pants. Strange how I can enjoy a gamut of emotions literally within hours of each other.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Avid Fan

"There's a writer named Kilgore Trout."

"There is?" Trout looked foolish and dazed.

"You never heard of him?"

Trout shook his head. "Nobody--nobody ever did."

*  *  *

Billy helped Trout deliver his newspapers, driving him from house to house in the Cadillac. Billy was the responsible one, finding the houses, checking them off. Trout's mind was blown. He had never met a fan before, and Billy was such an avid fan.

Avid fans are the BEST. I know...because I have one. :)

The first commenter to correctly identify the novel this quote came from and the author and the elementary school I went to AND the kindergarten teacher I had gets a free autographed copy of my first collection of short stories, which includes at least one science-fictiony type story.

I don't ask for much, I just ask for what I want.

There is no R in Wash

I had two customers pronounce "wash" like "warsh."

I always die a little inside when I hear that.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Big Fat Pi Presentation

So I bopped down the auditorium steps of the Cinema Center, resplendent in my Chicago Blackhawks jersey, and my professor turned to me and said, "now you're talkin'." Because I was presenting on Darren Aronofsky's Pi, I brought cherry pies for everyone, which went over very well.

It's been a while since I've been up in front of a class talking about something I find interesting, and I really enjoyed it. I prepared additional material because I suspected I would be the only one presenting. I talked about how the film looked: it's very contrasty, and one of the articles I read said the film is not really in black and white, it's in black OR white. Which is pretty accurate. I said the black and white approach to the film helped the viewer feel more like he or she was in Max's world. He's obsessed with finding a number that will unlock the meaning of the world, especially the stock market. I took some pictures of a stop sign and fireplug in both color and black and white, and said black and white photography (or filmmaking) forces you to look at shapes and shadows. You don't get distracted by the colors.

I was also having an awesome hair day! Must have been the Pantene Defining Curls Styling Custard.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Dreamed about Janice Dickinson ...

a couple nights ago. We were getting ready to leave some building when I hugged her and said "don't worry, you'll get another modeling contract." She didn't seem too concerned about it, but, she IS Janice Dickinson.

When I had surgery in spring of 2013, I loaded up with library books. It was bliss to be able to spend weeks lying in bed reading. A couple of the books I got during that time was No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel, by Janice Dickinson. I felt like she and I could relate to a certain extent. At the time she was struggling to be a model in an industry full of blue-eyed blondes, I was in elementary school coveting the blonde locks of my schoolmates. One classmate in particular (I think this was in kindergarten) had hair long enough to sit on. It seemed like if I got a doll for a gift, it was invariably blonde with blue eyes. I learned from an early age that it seemed to be a blue-eyed blonde type of world, and I resented it. And probably Dickinson did too.

She refers to herself as a "Polish mutt" not even acknowledging her father's English and Welsh roots, because she hated him. He was a pedophile, abusing one of Dickinson's younger sisters. Dickinson wanted out, and figured the way out was through modeling. She writes about sitting in her local supermarket obsessively reading the fashion magazines. People were telling her she was prettier than any of the models in the pages of Vogue.

Dickinson won a modeling contest in New York. A school friend's mother had just sold their Florida home and were planning to move back to New York. Dickinson burst into tears at the announcement, and the school friend's mother asked what was wrong. Dickinson confessed her hatred of Florida and wanting to go to New York with them. "So come with us," said the mother. And that, says Dickinson, is how she got to New York.

She got there, but it took getting used to. Turned down by Eileen Ford, Dickinson talks of pounding the pavements, barely eating, trying to get someone to give her a chance. Dickinson had a very unique look, as you can see from these photos.

In the first picture, she looks almost Asian, with full lips (which did not impress the hated/feared Ford). The second picture came from when she was established.

She's written two other books, Everything About Me is Fake--And I'm Perfect, and Check, Please!--Dating, Mating, and Extricating.

I know some feminists will probably cringe when I say this, but I wish I'd read these books earlier. A LOT earlier. However, Dickinson probably wasn't even thinking of writing books during the time I could have used her advice. Some men HAVE given her a bad time, but she hasn't given up on them, even after three failed marriages. Her books gave me a different perspective on things. And despite the anti-depressants, therapists and various feminist literature, Dickinson is who I should have been listening to all along. So why would I take advice from an addict who can't seem to stay married and has issues handling money?

Because she didn't let it get her down. Having a shitty father didn't stop her. The drugs haven't stopped her. Men being shitty to her didn't stop her. Money issues didn't stop her. She believed in herself, believed that she deserved her place in the modeling world among the blondes.

And indeed, when I think of the 1970s, I think of Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley, but I also think of Janice Dickinson, and wild child Gia Carangi, who died way too young.

And I also think of a little girl with curly dark hair, who didn't really become famous, but decades later, is still recognized by her mane, which is about as subtle as a heart attack. I've come to love my hair. I still feel like it's a separate person living on my head, with its own agenda. But I don't hate it anymore.

I wrote a letter to Dickinson, saying that I admired the fact that she didn't give up on her dream. I told her I read her books, and mentioned a little bit about my own past. I told her I just wanted her to know that she helped me, and I didn't want a response. She believed in herself, and maybe in time I may start to believe in myself too.

A quick sidenote: Even when I was an adult, my mother, who remembered that I never seemed to see any dark haired, brown-eyed dolls, continued to buy me dolls with dark hair. She got me a That Girl Barbie doll, and a Molly doll from The Big Comfy Couch. And whenever I gave greeting cards to my family, I always chose a Lucy Van Pelt Peanuts card.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shameless Grade Hussy

I found out my film professor is a Chicago Blackhawks fan. So guess who just happens to have a 'hawks jersey in her closet? I'm washing that sucker and wearing it tomorrow, with a completely innocent expression on my face. I'll do almost ANYTHING to make the professor like me as a person.

Except wear a Boston Red Sox jersey.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Middle School Blues

I found my Hello Kitty diary. I think I bought it when I went with my parents to Puerto Rico on their 25th anniversary trip. I even remember the name of the mall where I bought it: Plaza Las Americas. Anyway, names have been changed to protect the guilty. Wait--fuck that.

January 13, 1980

Dear Diary,
Cary Bellis hit me in the head again, in block. I don't know how much longer I can go on. I thought Northwood was going to be new and exciting but it isn't.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mini Movie Monday

I am going to try and post on a regular basis. It's not for lack of material--I have kept a journal every day since August, 2003. I also have random posts from when I was fresh out of college (the first time) as well as the depressing observations from high school. I could post a picture a day from all the prints I have and probably not run out of material for at least two years. Why don't I post every day?

I don't know.

I know some bloggers do it. My friend Heidi posts every day, and I'm not sure she would identify herself as a writer. I sort of do identify as a writer. So what's my damn problem? I'm not sure. Sometimes I worry about falling into a rut. So I'm going to try and post a better variety of stuff, maybe make some "theme" days, so people might know what to expect. But isn't the fun of following a blog NOT knowing what to expect?

Anyway, I make videos. I've got 47 up there, which means I need to make five more in order to post a different original video each week for a year. This first one is one of my favorite songs from the 80s as an extended remix. I think this was one of the first records I played on my USB turntable. Sadly, I can't record the music onto the computer anymore. The turntable still plays, but something is up with the software. Anyway, enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another Day ...

Another rejection slip. This time it was from Narrative magazine.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Northrop 30 year Class Reunion (The really long, self-indulgent version)

Five years ago I went to my first class reunion. I was not popular, or pretty, or an academic whiz. I was picked on a lot, mostly for my receding chin. There really wasn't any money to fix it when I was a kid, and even if there had been, I'm thinking my mom wouldn't have done it. Throughout life, I'd saved money for the procedure, but something always happened to the money. I needed a car repair, or something. I had good intentions, but something always came up. The only time I ever had real money in my life, I should have had it done. However, that was after my mother had died, and I had been out of work for nearly a year. I had no idea how long it would take me to get a job, and I was worried about spending that kind of money. When I think back, I didn't even think about getting my chin surgery done. My brother was being an asshole, and I had to find work.

And the procedure got put off for several more years. But, earlier this year, I'd won a settlement from a class action lawsuit, and I ended up with the biggest tax return I'd ever had in my life. It was time. I'd wanted this since I was 12 years old. I made an appointment with the maxilofacial surgeon. I told him I wanted it done before my reunion, and we were able to get it done. We cut it very close, but the swelling was gone in plenty of time. Even though my surgery was considered "cosmetic" it wasn't performed by a cosmetic surgeon. Instead of an implant, the doctor sliced the bottom part of my chin bone, pulled it forward, and anchored it with titanium plates.

I explained to the surgeon why I wanted it done so quickly. This wasn't something I just decided on. This had been a 36-year wish. It probably sounded super shallow--reunion coming up, I wanted to look good. Politely, he said he understood.

I hadn't lost the amount of weight I wanted, partly because I was in a depressive/exhaustive mood, and I just didn't care anymore. Even the morning of the surgery, I was rather apathetic.

Going on Facebook, one of the reunion organizers set up a page. People were eagerly posting comments and looking forward to going. One former classmates said she was really looking forward to coming because she had never been "allowed" to come. She said she was going to cry "tears of joy" because coming to a reunion was something she'd always wanted to do, but her former husband wouldn't let her come. She got out of the relationship about four years ago. I'm always interested as to why people come or don't come to reunions. My own reason was that I hated high school, and didn't really have fond memories. I can think of at least two boys who made my life hell. I can't remember how many times I was called "no-chin" but it was a lot. High school wasn't fun. I had a few friends, but I didn't stand out in a positive way. I wasn't a brain, or a performer. Probably no one thought I'd amount to anything.

But to read that a classmate wasn't "allowed" to attend a reunion ... that was shocking to me. Another classmate had responded to this classmate essentially saying, "suck it up, buttercup." She went on to say the page wasn't meant for drama, that this was something that needed to stay on her own Facebook page. I couldn't believe the insensitivity of the remark. If someone has been in a long-term abusive relationship and got out four years ago and is still healing, "suck it up, buttercup," is NOT the thing to say.

I have to say my former high school classmates burst out with lots of love and support. More than four dozen comments were made in support of the woman who was so excited to come to the reunion. I never knew her in high school, but felt sympathetic, and sent her a private message telling her I hope she had a great time at the reunion, and to cry all the tears of joy she wanted, and to enjoy herself.

There was a pre-reunion party, and I went to it, but it felt weird. The first group of people who recognized me had a couple of classmates that I had attended elementary school with. But in high school we didn't run in the same circle. I chatted a little, and a male classmate went off to get me a Smirnoff Ice. I hadn't recognized him, and when my classmates said, "oh, do you remember so-and-so" I said "yeah" (I did) but then put my foot in my mouth when I made the brilliant observation "you look different."

We showed pictures on our smartphones, but when the prom pics came out, I felt like I was being waterboarded. I got on Facebook and begged a fellow graduate to come down. She did, and kept me company for a while, then we left so I could get something to eat. We walked back to the party, but she didn't want to go in. I went back in and went upstairs and looked down at the crowd, which was congregated the length of the bar. I wasn't sure what to think. I took a few pictures, but I felt strange about approaching people. I'm still scared, I guess. Shortly thereafter, I left.

I don't really have a social life, but the two events I really cared about this spring happened to be on the same night. I was invited to a co-worker's wedding reception, and that was pleasant and fun. But I felt that I hadn't spent enough time at the reunion. One of my classmates had invited me, and sure enough, when we walked in, we were the last. Our name badges were very easy to find on the nearly empty table. I spotted another classmate who had emailed me that morning, and I was thrilled to find out she'd be there.

As a result of my private message, the classmate who was the target of the remark asked me to look for her at the reunion. I did, and I have a new friend.

I had a good time, but I regret that I didn't stay longer. Someone who had known me since kindergarten asked me to sign his yearbook, and the fact he had remembered me for so long was really touching.

And it was weird too, how I was planning to go into this reunion loaded for bear (pun not intended) What I mean by that was, I planned to confront my tormentors and basically give them a piece of my mind. I had my brand-new facial profile, and was ready to rip into two of the boys who made high school torture for me.

Except they weren't there. Or, if they were, they weren't recognizable.

But it made me realize a few things. Time changes things. And if you do some reading, you find out that individuals who are high school aged literally are NOT in their right minds. Throw in the usual pressures, and the possibility of abusive parents, absent parents, or divorced parents, job loss, and economic woes, it's entirely possible that instead of dealing with it in a healthy way, students lash out. If you're being dumped on, you find someone else to dump on.

So the reunion was a lot of fun. Once upon a time I vowed never to go unless I was armed, but five years ago, I knew at least one friend was going, and it would be something to write about. I was glad I went as I saw someone I was really close to, but had lost contact with. That night, after the reunion, we stopped by an all-night diner and ate outside on a windy spring night. I didn't get home until 6:30 a.m. I'm glad I saw her. I figured we'd maybe get together for lunch or dinner, and that we'd definitely see each other at the next reunion.

Except she died two years ago. I remember the day I got the email from her daughter. My friend was only three months older than I was. You always assume you'll reach old age. The sad truth is that you can go at any time. But we don't live our lives that way. Instead we make nasty, thoughtless remarks, never thinking that something someone said more than 30 years is ingrained in our heads, and by not forgetting, we allow it to define who we are. For too long.

People bitch about getting old. And yeah, time can take a toll, but it can also free us. There's life after high school. And the terrified person that I was back then is still terrified. But I got through college, when probably none of the guidance counselors thought I could hack it. And now I'm in grad school. And I've self-published books. I am more than a weak chin.

One of the boys who made my life miserable actually had the audacity to approach me via Facebook and extend a friend request, resulting in an "are you fucking kidding me?" moment. It wasn't the same as spitting in his face, but I sent him an email. Here it is:

"Bennett" (not his real name)
I find it interesting you have discovered me on Facebook and that you now want to be friends. Remember Northwood Middle School? Remember the time you hit me over the head with an English textbook? I do. Remember sitting in Mrs. Albright’s office and being questioned by her, my mother and me as to your aberrant behavior? I remember your stunning answer as to why you assaulted me. It was: “I don’t know.” I suspect you DID know, but being put on the spot by your victim, her mother and a guidance counselor rendered you stupid. So why DID you hit me? What did I ever do to you to warrant being hit? I really am curious, as the bullying continued into high school, and I continue to run into miserable types who have nothing better to do than put others down. The bullying has really done a number on me in a lot of ways; my relationships with people are quite difficult at times. Trusting people is a no-no. And the only man I allowed to be intimate with me broke up with me last September. I carry a lot of repressed rage, "Bennett." You have probably forgotten all about your middle school antics. I haven’t. So, I’m proposing a deal: if you allow me to slam a phone book over your head (something a Facebook friend suggested) you may indeed be my Facebook friend. As I see it, that will make us even. Even if you refuse my proposal, I still want to know why you hit me. It’s not every day I get to confront people from my past. With utmost curiosity, Gloria Diaz

Here's what he wrote back:

i am very sorry u r correct that i dont even remember this not saying it didnt happen cause obviously u remeber quite well somethings i do remember this i do not again, i am very sorry
if u want to be even, i will let u dont know what else to say i am truly sorry though i honestly do not remember

There's more:

i am so very sorry that something i did as a stupid teen has brought u so much grief and anxiety in your life. i truly mean this!! i have been up most of the night thinking about what you have said to me. when i remember back to you, all i can think is you were a very nice,quiet,shy young lady. i really wish you would have talked to me way back then about this and we could have hashed it out. i hate to think that i am the reason that you dont feel right or have had problems because i did something like that. all i can do now is tell you how i feel about this and ask for your forgiveness. i am truly very sorry. never ever thought that i would have adversely affected someones whole life so dramatically!! AGAIN, I AM VERY SORRY!
Here's my response:
You weren't the only one. But your actions did stand out. There were at least three others in high school (and countless others in middle school) who made me miserable. I skipped so much school in middle school that I went from being an A- student in sixth grade to a D student in seventh.
Why didn't I talk to you? Well, it's a little frightening to confront someone who hit me over the head with a book.
You weren't the only one, by any means. But I wonder, if I were such a nice person, why did I get treated like that?
I accept your apology.

I'm glad I wrote this letter. Just a couple days before, I had an insulting post from an acquaintance, and I ripped her a new one too.
But anyway, the reunion was fun and insightful, and I'm glad I went.