I flummox myself. Onomatopoeically, that totally fits. It happens often and the internal struggle is staggering. This happens out in the open, usually...more I flummox myself. Onomatopoeically, that totally fits. It happens often and the internal struggle is staggering. This happens out in the open, usually on a crowded sidewalk or bus or subway or stoplight. I find that I will mouth the argument much to the annoyance of people who need to walk around me or stand next to me or wait behind me. Sometimes I think I'm deep...this Denny's bottomless cup of coffee of enlightenment, sometimes I think I'm just fucking nuts.
Why do I not like David Sedaris more than I do? I think we would be friends if he weren't 14 years older than me and living in completely different circles. I believe our combined neuroses could make even Woody Allen say 'Hey now...' I read his essays and nod my head with equally matched comraderie and empathy. Yet, I finish one of his books and I'm like 'eh'. What the hell is wrong with me?
I read When You are Engulfed in Flames concurrently with Arguably: Selected Essays and I marveled at the feelings each book brought forth. I would smile and sometimes chuckle with David but be in awe of Christopher. David is much more kin to me than Christopher ever would be, is that why I expect more out of him? I know, it's not fair to compare, but that's just my nature.
But, I can say the same of Sarah Vowell. I adore Sarah. I worship Sarah, yet I'm lukewarm to David? Is that really fair? Do I spend too much time thinking about my injustices with David? Most likely. Again, flummoxed.
Maybe I need to hear David read. I've listened to Sarah, and her voice grates on me and speaks to me in ways that have me desperatley reaching for my anti depressants. Just the opening reading of Assassination Vacation had me picking out our china pattern, naming our firstborn. Why doesn't David do that for me? I've said this before, I just want to hold David, press him against my bosom and tell him that all will be okay.
He would probably hate that and I would most likely passive aggressively hate him for making me want to do that, but this is life and what can I do? All the injustices in the world and what have you... (less)
Goddamn it. I hate you, Barry Lyga. By that I mean I love you but right now you are not my favorite person. I will get to that later.
Having vented......more Goddamn it. I hate you, Barry Lyga. By that I mean I love you but right now you are not my favorite person. I will get to that later.
Having vented... if you haven't read anything by Barry Lyga, you are a fool. If you consider yourself a fan of YA and haven't read him then you are an even bigger fool. Please put down your dystopian vampire love triangle and pick up something. Anything. Read Boy Toyor The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Read the first book in this series, I Hunt Killers. Just READ.
Because he is creepy and awesome. Creepingly awesome. I gush. I can't help it. Then I see this on his goodreads page... So help me god, put down that fantasy crap* and read him.
Now, back to my gut wrenching hatred for Mr. Lyga. How DARE you end this book this way. It is 4:20 (I'm not making that up, btw) in the morning and I just finished your second installment of Jasper Dent and now I want to throttle you. I hope that you have been chained to your computer and are furiously belting out the next book. I hope you don't sleep until it is finished. If I see you, do not think that I won't go all Annie Wilkes on your ass. In exchange, I promise that if you receive another pink slip, I will hunt down those people and end them. Billy Dent would be proud.
Now get writing.
*crap meant in the most lovingly way, of course.(less)
“Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifferen...more“Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.” ― Honoré de Balzac
Some article some where said that this was one of those 'must read' young adult books. I didn't really read into it to see why. The title sort of piqued my interest. Who didn't have a hate list? Right?
My 25th high school reunion was 2 days ago. I found this out because a couple of friends from middle school had facebooked me and I saw a few posts about partying it up with the class of 1988. I admit, I was interested. I looked at their photos. I looked at some of the profiles of people that made my life hell. (I have that stalker thing going on.) I have that need to see if these people are miserable. I still ( still) want them to be miserable. I guess I haven't grown, much.
I recently finished Margaret Atwood's beautifully written book dealing with bullying, Cat's Eye, and found myself too wound up to actually write a review. Too emotional, too full. I then read karen'sreview and thought that she summed it up pretty well. There is a hollow that comes from those scars.. it changes you even when you are not sure how or why.
Now I find that I can't escape this topic. I have a daughter in middle school. I see her suffer from those hateful little beasts day in and day out. I want to shield her, I want to pummel them. I want to tell her it will be okay, but I know that it will not, because here I am, living proof, that it is not.
Do you really ever get over bullying? Does the Hate List ever get dismissed?
It's been 25 years since I left the hell of high school social life and I still have the scar tissue.. tender even.... I finished this book within 24 hours and while I read the words, the images that formed were not of Val and Nick and Jessica and Christy, but of my own demons. Of the Twissas, and Dereks, and Sues that I see posing in photo booth pictures at the reunion acting like this was such a great time in their lives. Sure, maybe it was. Maybe they've blocked out the horrible things that they did, the horrible people that they were and chocked it up to youth. Fuck them, I say. I'm not ready to get over it.
This book wasn't outstanding, but it did have some interesting messages.... How the media represents the 'healing process' of the schools after such a massacre. How very Columbine it was (although we've experienced too many such massacres since, Columbine is the one that always comes to my mind) How schools come together after a tragedy. Right. Sure it does.
"People hate. That's our reality. People hate and are hated and carry grudges and want punishments.
The news tells us that hate is no longer our reality.
I don't know if it's possible to take hate away from people. Not even people like us, who've seen firsthand what hate can do. We're all hurting. We're all going to be hurting for a long time. And we, probably more than anyone else out there, will be searching for a new reality every day. A better one."
The cynical part of me says 'Good luck with that.' I can't see a better reality for people who carry that grudge. I can tell you that I am not a good enough person to say that after 25 years I didn't see all the same faces as I read through this book, that I didn't sympathize with the killer. Maybe it was the reunion that brought that out in me... but I didn't feel anything but the old resentments surface.
I'm afraid to face my 12 year old today. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to lie and tell her that it goes away. My words will sound hollow and will drift (much like this review has). This makes me sadder than you will ever know. (less)
This was like walking in on the final act of some grand production. Walking in on Romeo dooming himself as Juliet awakes. The last cries of ‘Jack! Ros...moreThis was like walking in on the final act of some grand production. Walking in on Romeo dooming himself as Juliet awakes. The last cries of ‘Jack! Rose!’ as the Leocicle drops into the icy Atlantic...hearing the last notes of ‘Hiding All Away’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Yeah. Like that.
By now you know that I’m not the deepest well in the field. I spent my twenties reading Weetzie Bat and bopping around to King Missile. I know, I should have been studying the NYTBR or listening to Ira Glass wax poetic. It was misspent youth. I get it.
So, walking in on Dorothy pointing to her farmer friends saying ‘and you were there and you and you’… Yes, that is how I felt reading this book. I knew the name Christopher Hitchens… vaguely. (yes, you can drop me as a friend, I totally understand.) I am sure that I have read SOMETHING by him, right? I mean, I did have that subscription to the Atlantic in my thirties and I remember my husband buying this Vanity Fair so maybe there was something there… (besides sad substitutes for Lohan porn). But, I don’t KNOW Christopher Hitchens and I feel lesser because of that.
Maybe I wouldn’t like him. Maybe I would think he was another blowhard. I don’t know.. but when you are writing on your death bed and you can sound this eloquent… well, slap my knee and call me sally, I’m on board. Okay, Okay… writing about the Big C, suicide, AIDS... the death of a loved one tends to get props just on subject alone. The endurance, the courage, the tragedy of it all. It sells, I know this. It is especially jarring when you have experienced the loss of someone . You relate and you feel like you are in the know. It’s actually sort of selfish though, I mean.. YOU didn’t go through this.. you weren’t the one having toxins pumped into you, having your body, your mind, become your enemy. You just stood by and watched it happen, rubber-necking, gawking, throwing out clichés by the dozen (ha!).
Hitchens is full frontal here, he is witty and he is honest and clever and his whole take on ‘living dyingly’ makes the journey more personal. He is a master at his craft, of including you in the story, you are not bored or even sympathetic in that false sense that you think you know what he is going through. He makes you laugh as he talks about reading reactions to his illness, how the zealots actually relish: “Who else feels that Christopher Hitchens getting terminal throat cancer (sic) was God’s revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme him? Atheists like to ignore FACTS. They like to act like everything is a “coincidence”. Really? It’s just a “coincidence” (that) out of any part of his body, Christopher Hitchens got cancer in the one part of his body he used for blasphemy? Yeah, keep believing that, Atheists,. He’s going to writhe in agony and pain and wither away to nothing and then die a horrible agonizing death, and THEN comes the real fun, when he’s sent to HELFIRE forever to be tortured and set afire.”
And his first response? Which mere primate is so damn sure that he can know the mind of god?
(I do apologize for the use of gifs...there's no real excuse...carpe diem, folks.)
I really like this guy. I wish I had known him pre posthumously. Mortality is not long. (Yes, I get it.) But, it packs that punch. He is eloquent and it feels authentic, not dramatic. I believe this struggle.
“worst of all is chemo-brain. Dull stuporous. What if the protracted, lavish torture is only prelude to a gruesome execution.”
“Also ordinary expressions like ‘expiration date’.. will I outlive my Amex? My driver’s license?”
“Nose-hairs gone: runny nostrils. Constipation and diarrhea alternating.”
“ Brave? Hah! Save it for a fight you can’t run away from.”
“Banality of cancer. Entire pest-house of side-effects. Special of the day.”
I appreciate this because it knocked me on my ass. Death made me an orphan, a widow---what I might have thought a victim, but death was not kind to my loved ones and I need to see that and I need to see the struggles that they made to make sure that I didn’t see it then.
'Everyday it's a gettin' closer.' 'We should consider every day lost that we have not danced.' 'Write it on your heart that every day is the best day...more'Everyday it's a gettin' closer.' 'We should consider every day lost that we have not danced.' 'Write it on your heart that every day is the best day ever.' 'Every day in a life fills the whole life with expectations and memory.'
If we were to focus on teen angst, every day is most likely just like any day. Another to get through, another to wait to see the person you are waiting to see, another day for homework, heartbreak, loneliness. Every day is not special and why should it be… every day sucks. (I’m still in teen angst mode)
So, what David Levithan has done here is taken this emotion, this qualifier and turned it into something more. Every day is not any day. Every day is anything you will it to be.
A, the protagonist in this story, does not take every day for granted. Well, wait. Yes, he does. Because to him, it’s all he’s ever known. One day in the life of someone and then when he wakes up, one day in the life of someone else. There is no tomorrow or yesterday, there are no plans to make, no friends, no waiting for the person you wait for. A is just there for the day, borrowing lives, trying to be the least imposing as possible. A has experienced 6034 days, 6034 lives.
“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers or the burden of parental expectation. I can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past or motivated by the future. I focus on the present because that is where I am destined to live.”
Can you imagine the angst? You are never yourself, or you are, but you are in the background, going through the motions of someone else’s life. You try to create memories but after 30 or 40 different lives, those memories are hazy unless they imprint on you.. You are never the center of attention, it’s never about you.
“I wake up thinking of yesterday. The joy is in remembering; the pain is in knowing it was yesterday.”
I’ve enjoyed Levithan’s co-writing.. he wrote with John Green, Rachel Cohn, Jonathan Farmer. This is the first that I’ve read that is purely his. It’s beautiful. It flows like A does from one scene to another, you understand how A feels when s/he actually falls in love and has to grapple with those wants and recognizing those needs. What do you do when you can never be you?
“A sound waiting to be a word.” I love this. I love the voice, the despondency, the joy, I love it all. He nails the sixteen year old in me. He puts into words the feeling of feeling. He doesn’t just show the uneasiness that defined this time in my life; he gives it courage, hope, and a sense of self. I could have used this way back when.
“It would be too easy to say that I feel invisible. Instead, I feel painfully visible, and entirely ignored.”
Every one should read this. Every sentence should be ruminated. Every everything. (less)
If I were a less stable person (!!) I could seriously develop an apocalypse complex. It’s the end of the world, and I would not feel fine. I am not a...moreIf I were a less stable person (!!) I could seriously develop an apocalypse complex. It’s the end of the world, and I would not feel fine. I am not a doomsday prepper or what have you. I would lie down and submit. You would not find me hunkering down with spam and automatic weapons waiting to meet the ‘end’ head-on. No, no, no… I would not go to there. Fight or flight? I’m outta here.
Yes, the dystopian genre is a draw right now… ever wonder why? Is it generational? I mean.. the cold war kids are all grown… maybe that’s it… maybe they passed it down. Maybe duck and cover drills were like Monopoly night or something. Maybe it’s ingrained in our genes. It’s anybody’s guess, neurosis, prediction, affliction.
I did not realize that The Dog Stars was a post-apocalyptic story. I don’t think that would have hindered my decision to read it, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. The delivery is broken, much like the man. I’d be surprised if there was a sentence longer than 10 words in the first 5 pages. I like that, I think like that. It’s like drum taps. “I am young enough, I am old enough.” Huh. I like that.
Where this differs from other post-apocalyptic novels is that 1) there’s no strong female lead with 2 hotties gunning for her 2) there are no zombies, aliens, vampires, mutations, monsters, fairies, trolls, etc, etc, etc. No, it’s believable. A flu that kills off most of the world’s population, a ‘blood disease’ that kills off another whole bunch and there are the survivors… the in-betweens… the lost. Here is where I start to worry… yeah, this COULD happen. (I’m still not stocking up on dry good, btw.)
Hig, the main character, is definitely lost. He dwells in an abandoned airplane hangar, his only neighbor, companion, local psycho-path, is Bangley. Bangley is what everyone wants around during a world wide epidemic like disaster and no one wants around any other time. He is good with a gun, or let’s say, 100 guns and he has no empathy.. well, almost none. He seems to like Hig. At least Hig hopes he does.
Hig also has Jasper, his dog. Of course, bring in a dog to make this all the more angsty. I’ve seen I am Legend. I know the drill. How he does this, surviving, I do not know. ‘The Fear is like a memory of nausea. You can’t remember how bad it was or that you just about asked to die instead. But I do. ‘ There is a poignancy in Hig’s story and I definitely contribute that to the writing. Many times, I stopped and sighed after a particular sentence, image, retrospection. His loneliness is so significant, I ache for him.
“I used to love to fly like this. Twisting through a canyon fifty feet off the water. Now I don’t feel anything. I feel the way my unwadered legs felt after ten minutes in the snowmelt. Numb and glad to be. Glad to be numb. The difference maybe between the living and the dead: the living often want to be numb the dead never do, if they never want anything.”
I was often reminded of McCarthy’s The Road while reading this. It has the same despair and the same feel in the words. Better to not name things because you don’t know how long they will be there. I get that. I usually swallow that feeling and go a bit Pollyanna, but it’s there. Duck and Cover, my friends.
“Grief is an element. It has its own cycle like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen. It never diminishes not ever. It passes in and out of everything.”
“An old panic rose in my chest. The panic of nightfall, of storm, of being alone on open ground. Surprised the shit out of me.”
“I was a troll who lived at the base of a tree. Looked at the world through a scratchy scrim of needles and branches. Lived on rain, on bits of song and memory.”
Words that can make the goose flesh rise are a rare thing. Something to be treasured. I found myself thinking in Heller’s words and a melancholy would surface. It probably wasn’t a good idea to talk to me while I was reading this.
It’s funny though, there is a hope in all this despair. I mean, he keeps going right, he feels that there is some worth in living, even if he’s not sure of what that might be. I envy him that. I believe that I would not be so strong.
“And in the long evening we’d take the two single gear bikes up the paved road to a stone pothole with a little sluicing waterfall, the water always freezing, and we’d strip and jump in. This was our ritual while we waited for our lived to truly begin and I think now that maybe true sweetness can only happen in limbo. I don’t know why. Is it because we are so unsure, so tentative and waiting? The not knowing anything really, the hoping, the aching transience: This I not real, not really, and so we let it along, let it unfold lightly. Those times that can fly. That’s the way it seems now looking back.”
Hindsight sucks, eh?
I feel like a better person for reading this. I still wouldn’t survive a week in a pandemic situation, but at least I have this under my belt. (less)
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea."
You th...more"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea."
You think about signs. How it is so easy to miss them, misinterpret them, ignore them, spit in their face. Is it about rebellion? Is it trying to defy the inevitable? If you ignore the whole nations, anguish, tossing part of the bible quote and focus on the selfish, defeatist, lovelorn Yunior and his tales of woe that is This is How You Lose Her, you know that he definitely spat.
“I’m not a bad guy.”
You know that this is probably the one statement that you don’t want to hear from someone you are sleeping with. It’s a garish neon blinking VACANCY sign. It’s doomed. This is how This is How You Lose Her starts and you roll your eyes and wait for the proof. Yunior is a major sucio. It’s right there, in like the 4th sentence of the first story. You cannot deny this, if you knew this man you would hate him on principle.
“ Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.”
Yet you continue to read these stories of Yunior and his exploits and his constant yearning for that one true love. While fucking 3 to 4 woman on the side during each of his relationships. You actually relish in his demise. What makes you continue reading? Is it the second person narrative that you love so much, the inclusion, the self helpy feeling that it brings? Hell Yes, you crave the attention, you want to be part of the cool crowd. You continue.
“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”
Neruda was a cheater. Uh Huh. This haunts you. You’ve swooned over his words and now they are tinged. It’s not hard to ignore when he gets all “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” on you, and you know that you are being judgmental and that you should be Freetobeyouandme about it but you feel betrayed.
Then something happens. The Cheater’s Guide to Love. You’ve spent all of the book muttering ‘fuck you, you dirty swine’ and then the call of the dysfunctional man pulls you in. Why are you feeling bad for Yunior? You liked watching karma kick his ass. Now you feel pity. Which, in itself, is a triumph. Who wants to be pitied? Only the pitiful. You get what you deserve. But now, now you watch the demise, physical, emotional, psychological and you want to say it’s okay. You will find love. You will get better and then you read the last paragraph:
“It’s a start—you say to the room. That’s about it. In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace—and because you know in your lying cheater’s heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.”
And you know.. that cheater or not, you will at some point realize that yes, a start is all we ever get. And you weep. (less)
I owe Mr. Steinbeck an apology. I am so shamed that I cannot even use the familiar 'John'. I have taken this beautiful story and mucked it up. I read...more I owe Mr. Steinbeck an apology. I am so shamed that I cannot even use the familiar 'John'. I have taken this beautiful story and mucked it up. I read about Lee Chong during a middle school basketball game, I learned of Dora Flood while riding the shuttle bus to work. I grew to love/hate Mack during a cheerleading competition filthy with Rihanna songs. I fell in love with Doc and Frankie and Darling while watching a traumatic brain injured patient freak out about his meds.
I am not worthy. This series of stories is so…breathtaking. I may even go to California because of it… before it was Big Sur that made me think of leaving my treasured New England, but now… now I want to bask in the rubble of Cannery Row.
Except, I can’t… can I? Because it is set in a time that is so far off my radar. It’s set when credit bought you cheap whiskey and Model T’s were interchangeable. When squatters could make an old cannery their home and when artists could pretend to be French and live in a partially built boat. Why do I wish for this? It’s depressing and everything feels soaked in sepia and I see pageboys and horny sailors and dare I say… ruffians? I am messed up.
This is beautiful and sad and romantic and hopeful and tragic and wistful…. and….
Everyone seems to have a favorite story… the gopher, the party, the frog hunt. I can’t pinpoint one. I can only describe emotions and even then, I feel like I cheated and was only able to give in to them superficially. It’s really hard to take in “The word is a symbol and a delight which sucks up men and scenes, trees, plants, factories, and Pekinese. Then the Thing becomes the Word and back to Thing again, but warped and woven into a fantastic pattern. The Word sucks up Cannery Row, digests it and spews it out, and the Row has taken the shimmer of the green worlds and the sky-reflecting seas.” while the bus driver is laying on his horn and swerving dangerously around a Subaru.
I love every part of this book. Every word. It conjures up whimsy and makes me feel like there is more to life than vampires and reality shows and twitter and… and….
I also want to give a shout out to the reviews that many of my friends have posted. Each are in itself a chapter, a slice of the Row. I love that Sarah read this to her friends during a trip from Portland to Salinas. I love that Ben is reminded of teenage fears that karen uses the phrase ‘well-meaning ineptitude’ and that I now have an image of Logan flirting it up with Steinbeck.
Thank you, Mr. Steinbeck, thank you goodreaders, and thank you Carole Louise Dahl of Olympic Valley, CA for giving away this book so that I could buy it for a quarter at a library sale. I am a better person for having read this.
on a side note... does it detract from my appreciation if I mention how hot Steinbeck was? (less)
At one point in my life, I would have embraced this ‘I-am-an-anti-Christ-I-am-an-anarchist-Don't- know-what-I-want-But-I-know-how-to-get-it-I-wanna-de...more At one point in my life, I would have embraced this ‘I-am-an-anti-Christ-I-am-an-anarchist-Don't- know-what-I-want-But-I-know-how-to-get-it-I-wanna-destroy-the-passer-by-'Cos-I-wanna-be-anarchy’ anthem.
Now I’m just tired.
In 1996, when this novel was written, I might have been on the fringe of still believing… maybe…naps looked awful nice back then. The idea is inspiring, in a mind-set not body moving sort of way.
I will admit that I loved this movie adaptation and it’s taken me 17 years to read the book. Is that a hipster thing? I don’t know. I loved it in a Keyser Soze sort of way. In a Leonard Shelby sort of way. When I was young, Tyler Durden was one hot character. Now he seems like high maintenance. Really, who can keep up with that?
I do love the boy on boy camaraderie that fight club inspires. I have never been in a fight, unless you count the time I slammed my Holly Hobby lunch box into Troy Smith’s jaw in kindergarten. I don’t see the exhilaration but I can appreciate it. I can support the whole ‘not wanting to die without scars’ reasoning. We get one life. Let’s beat the crap out of each other and enjoy it. It’s probably not so different than a runner’s high, right?
I can also get behind the support group addiction. What better way to lose yourself but to plop down in the middle of parasitic brain parasite survivors. That paper cut seems much friendlier now.
Our generation has always seemed… not lost… another group got that name. I hate the ‘x’ label… but we’ve always seemed bitter and pissed off and growing up has been a hassle. This book captures that feeling:
“Deliver me from Swedish Furniture Deliver me from clever art May I never be complete May I never be content May I never be perfect Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.”
Because what then?
Maybe Tyler Durden lives in all of us. Maybe we all believe that ‘This isn’t really death… We’ll be legend. We won’t grow old.” Maybe we’re scared that we will be forgotten. Tyler Durden can save us from obscurity. “Maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.” Many of us believed that once.
I am Joe’s xanax/paxil/klonopin ridden liver.
Sid Vicious once said “ I was the only guy with any bit of anarchy left.” Look where it got him. I have a bowl of hearty tomato soup and homemade bread waiting for me. Project Mayhem can wait. I will watch the walls fall and wonder 'Where is my mind?' thankyouverymuch.
Gray skies are gonna clear up, Put on a happy face
As a self-proclaimed Pollyanna, I will be the first to admit that I would want to punch you in the f...moreGray skies are gonna clear up, Put on a happy face
As a self-proclaimed Pollyanna, I will be the first to admit that I would want to punch you in the face if you said this to me. What the hell is wrong with a little rain? Huh? You can't be happy if it rains? Fuck you.
You can have your gangnum style and complain about never ever ever ever getting back together again and umm... okay, that's my extent of youth culture... you guys like furbies again, right?
Happy face is old school teen angst. There are no vampires or faeries or dystopian threats... hell... HIGH SCHOOL is a dystopian threat. It is the absolute clear definition of dystopia: "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives." Can't get much realer than this.
Brush off the clouds and cheer up, Put on a happy face.
Seriously. Fuck you.
Happy face is special in that it gives you the out. It tells you how to beat this. It's all right there in front of you. Believe it or not, the song has it right....
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy, It's not your style; You'll look so good that you'll be glad Ya' decide to smile!
See? I just told you. DO NOT BE YOURSELF. You will be ridiculed, you will get beat up, you will be lonely and want to die.
You see, I was this thing. I was a miserable a=loaded-gun-won't-set-you-free-so-you-say sixteen year old who wore my Undead t-shirt proudly and played my 1987 UK second issue 3-track 12" vinyl single, also including How Soon Is Now? & Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, Billie Whitelaw image picture sleeve with light blue die cut and I was totally into IT. Where did it get me? Being spit on at Pep Rallys, my friend... do not follow my example.
So, I decided to stick out my noble chin... I decided to wipe off that 'full of doubt' look. I decided to... no offense to the hair colored challenged... go blonde. Literally. I got rid of the Siouxsie Sioux hair color and cut my bangs and found the bleach beat my hair into submission. I even went further.. I found saddle shoes and letterman sweaters and poodle skirts and listened to rockabilly and man DID I EVER SMILE. I slapped on that happy grin! And spread sunshine all over the place, goddammit. And guess what?
People actually bought it. They totally liked the new me. It depressed the hell out of me. Didn't they understand the mockery?
And then... I bought into it. I said, hell... if this is what it takes, then this is what I will be. And I bounced and I giggled and I hello kittied my way through my senior year.
So, I can relate with Happy Face. He gets it. If you are pathetic in your old life, then create a new one. Yes, eventually this will lead to some sort of dissociative identity disorder and you may need sleep hygiene therapy, but maybe by then you will be out of high school and finding a new "society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding."
We can only hope.
And if you're feeling cross and bitterish Don't sit and whine Think of banana split and licorice And you'll feel fine
I am a horrible person (ME.ME.ME.ME.ME.ME). I am worse than a horrible person. I am a killer. I am worse than a killer. I am a killer of dreams.
My dau...more I am a horrible person (ME.ME.ME.ME.ME.ME). I am worse than a horrible person. I am a killer. I am worse than a killer. I am a killer of dreams.
My daughter, Marley, was about 3 when she introduced me to Hartluv. At first I thought that there were some hippy parents who subjected their child to this moniker. Maybe someone in her pre-school class but then I thought, we live in Manchester, NH. No one is that bright or weird in Manchester, NH. (we were planning our escape). It went like this:
Marley: Mom, Hartluv wants to go to the park. Me: Wha? Marley: Hartluv.wants.to.go.to.the.park. Me: Harley? Marley: (rolls eyes) Heart. Love. Me: Is that a person? Marley: She is my friend. Me: From school? Marley: (sighs) No. She lives with us. She’s right here. Me: (blank face)
Okay. I handled it well from there on. I played a long with Hartluv. I let her swing on the swings; I made a cake for her birthday, ½ birthday, sad day, etc… Hartluv told Marley she was a superhero, so Marley would introduce herself as Marley Doubleday, MD, Superhero. (she wanted to be a doctor, it was a compromise). Hartluv was a constant for about 2 years. Marley actually had 101 imaginary friends, including PianoTalk, Treeko (her stuffed animal but very prominent) . Then, one day I was upset/bad day/tired/stressed—typical mom stuff—and I didn’t set a place for Hartluv at dinner. Marley was upset and I couldn’t take it..
“Hartluv is NOT REAL!”
Quiet. Even Emily, the older sister who always made fun of Hartluv stopped. Marley looked at me and started to cry. Great. I suck. I tried to make it up to her, but Marley didn’t talk about Hartluv very much anymore, I know she was still around because I would hear Marley playing with her, but she didn’t mention her. When Marley was 7, I asked her about Hartluv. “She’s gone.” Then walked away. I asked her about Hartluv when she was 13 and she rolled her eyes. I killed Hartluv.
I don’t think I had an imaginary friend. I kinda hate myself for that. Was I not imaginative enough? Did I have one and forget? I feel like I missed out. Matthew Dicks takes this concept and molds it in a being, Budo, who is an imaginary friend to Max, who is autistic. Budo helps Max live on the outside, when all Max wants is to live inside. He helps him choose what color shirt to wear, what kind of soup to eat; he helps him fall asleep at night. Budo is as real as Max, he was imagined smart, he looks human, and he can walk through doors and windows because Max wants him to. Some imaginary friends that Budo meets are not so human. Wooly is a paper doll, Teeny is a fairy, Klute is a bobblehead. Spoon is a spoon. But they are real to their imaginers and to each other and they die. They are not needed anymore and they begin to fade away and then they die. I freakin’ cried buckets each time one was lost. I think that everyone should have an imaginary friend forever so they can live and help you and guard you and tell you what to wear. I want my own Hartluv.
I want my own Budo, Klute, Oswald, Graham, Teeny, Spoon, Summer, Puppy. I want Blu.
I want them to be remembered always, to love ‘em and hold ‘em and squeeze and never stop.
I love this story. I love the way it speaks, the way it holds you, the beauty of the friendships.