Diary Sessions: Part 1


When I was last visiting my parents in April, I brought all my old diaries back with me and realized…they’re kinda amazing. I was in such torment over everything. Now, I don’t want to invalidate the feelings I had as a kid, because I went to a small school full of awful little children being awful to each other (I think a lot of us can agree on that regardless of where we grew up)…but it’s cute to see how I described this torment. I thought I was such a grown up and was just so dramatic sometimes (not much has changed on that front, probably). I also had the habit of getting myself into ridiculous situations out of sheer boredom.

So. As I was reading my first diary from 5th grade (age 10 was a particularly ridiculous one for me) I came across a few lines that I wanted to share. My comments are, obviously, in italics.

November 4, 2003 — Study Hall We didn’t have study hall. I don’t know who I thought I was tricking other than my older self, but surprise! I have not been tricked….

I wish I could finish a diary sometime but I never have anything to write about other than my problems and I don’t have a vivid memory Spoiler alert: I have three diaries full of “problems” and vivid memories sitting directly in front of me that were written from ages 10-18, plus a few half-filled ones somewhere else.

Sometimes I read peoples diaries who have died already and I wonder, how did they not get writer’s cramp?

At the moment all I want is a friend (single tear). Megan isn’t a friend and never will be because if she even tries I’ll die. Okay, hold on there sister. A little less drama please. She probably wants me to die. I want  her to die. Gosh, diaries are just so private! Not anymore. I am making no sense, even to me. I don’t get it either, you tiny murderous child. 

Cramp! Will write later. I guess I wasn’t like those dead diary-writers who never got “writer’s cramp.”

“Shane is so annoying…sometimes I want to tell him he is an ass and slap him across the face. That would be very rude though!” TO. SAY. THE. LEAST.

Then, later that day, (there are several entries from the 4th of November…I must’ve been channeling my inner dead diary-writer) I wrote: If someone asked me if I don’t think girls’ body parts are fair compared to boys’ body parts I would tell them that girls can get breast cancer, they get a period, because of their period they have to wear a tampon/pad, they get breasts, because of breasts they need bras, blah blah blah. I would be very open about that sort of thing. I really don’t think it is fair…I miss being a little kid and not having to worry about maturity. Oh, kiddo. If you think that’s unfair, you have no idea what you’re in for. Also, though, I love that I already wanted to be super open about the female body. 14 years later and I haven’t changed on that front. #BabyFeminist.

November 5, 2003 — Early in the Morning

As I was saying last night, all you have to worry about when you are really little (You are a child. Please just embrace that and stop feeling so woeful about your old age) is whether or not your friends will share crayons with you. Whoa boy. Times have changed. P.S. The worst thing that can happen is having the same pants as the same person who didn’t share crayons! Ba-dum-chhhhhhhhhhhh.

Then I described some weird incident where a girl named Morgan asked me if I was smoking on the bus and I said I wasn’t and everyone else said I was. What the fuck was wrong with these children?!

Sidney is so sickening (Hello, RuPaul) sometimes. When I was at the drinking fountain she kept bumping me. I almost turned around and said, “Sidney, is something coming to attack you?” (Zing) Seriously, that girl has some kind of problem. See, she sits right in front of me and always wants to use my stuff. I, being the generous person I am, never let her use it. HAHAHAHAHAHA that was actually pretty good.

A few lines later, I made some weird joke about George Bush being the leader of all the girls who were mean to me. I don’t know, y’all. I don’t know. #PoliticallyActive10YearOlds

Dad had surgery on his wrist. He’s gonna show us his cut. What’s so gross about a cut? I don’t know — who are you asking, exactly, and why are you so sure they’re going to argue with you about this cut business?

The next few entries are just me calling everyone I know a “jurk” and a dope, the latter of which I must’ve picked up from my father. After that, it was all about how I was in love with Jesse but he loved Janelle, and then I “made Megan talk to the hand.”

Okay, y’all. I think that’s all for now. Trust me, there’s plenty of material here for next time…

 

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A Few Fuck-Yous…


…Brought to you by international air and train travel.

1. Fuck you for wearing your skunk perfume on a plane (also on the train…I’m looking at you, passengers of renfe who showered in old man cologne). I’m glad you’re making an effort to smell good but we’re all hurtling through the sky in a coke can so everyone can smell everyone else a little too well and I will sneeze on you.

2. Fuck you for wearing your nicest heels and jewels through the security line. I’m glad you’re wealthy and old, but there’s really no reason to hold up the line with your nonsense just so you can stick your fake nose a little higher in the air.

3. Fuck you for looking nice on an airplane, honestly. This isn’t so much of a fuck you as it is a how is this possible? I look like a gremlin who was caught in a flood and a tornado and a hornets nest. It’s just rude to look so much better than me, and to make it all look so effortless. I’m wearing socks with sandals, goddamn it, because I’m tired, these shoes were too heavy to check through, and my toes get cold. I’m a wreck. This is a PSA.

4. Fuck the system. Or…yeah. Fuck this whole first class business class nonsense. I get it, because I, too, would like to actually be able to stretch my (very long) legs out whilst flying. But I can’t, because I don’t have money flying off of trees and landing in my wallet.

5. Speaking of first class, fuck the stupid curtain. “Okay so what we’ll do is take the rich people and put them up front and then keep the plebs away from them with a mesh curtain.”

6. Fuck airports that don’t have free unlimited wifi. Sorry I have a six hour layover and wanted to write on my laptop but only had 30 minutes to do it, JFK. Sorry. So sorry I refuse to pay $5 an hour for shitty wifi. On that note, fuck writing a blog post on your cell phone whilst using data.

7. Fuck. I’m so fucking tired. I’m in that mood where nothing matters so I don’t understand why people put any effort into anything non-essential. Also I broke a nail and I’m annoyingly emotional about it.

8. 12 hours down, 8 to go. There’s no place like home. Fuck everywhere else.

I Live in Mist


What is it about weather that inspires us to write? More specifically, why are we always moved by rain? I suppose rain symbolizes new beginnings as it cleans the streets and helps the crops and flowers grow. I think there’s something more, some other reason that we like to write poems and songs and entire novels about rain. But I have a feeling that by the end of this particular post, that reason will remain a mystery to me.

It’s absolutely pouring here. Monsoon status rain outside my window…and I don’t take monsoon rains lightly, having been caught in several during my stay in India…but I don’t think I’ve ever seen rain this powerful in this tiny little town, and I just love it. All my windows are open, and I went outside on my tiny porch to feel the mist on my face. It’s just…wonderful. It made me write.

I’m scared and anxious lately because I move out of my college town in three days, and within a few weeks will be living in Portland. I want everything to be for sure: I want a nice, cheap apartment in a good part of town. I want a job (literally any job). I want to be happy there. I want to know things about my future in Portland, but unfortunately that’s the weird part about making plans for the future…you never really know anything until it becomes the present. It’s exciting, all those unknowns, but in another sense it’s really really not. It’s just terrifying.

I went to India basically on a whim. I mean, I was heavily invested in going, and I researched a lot, but there’s no way to be prepared for what India presents you with. I just sort of showed up, very white and very naive, with a lot of sunscreen and Pepto Bismol in my suitcase. And I was fine. I survived. I got e. Coli, which was absolutely horrific and not really an experience I’d recommend to a friend, but I totally survived. And I loved my time in India. Every experience was new and exciting, every conversation challenging and beautiful.

So I guess I just need to pretend that this massive new step in my life is like traveling to India. It’ll probably be easier, now that I think of it. I’m relocating from one town in the Pacific Northwest to another (albeit much larger) city. My apartment was dingy, plain, and randomly full of tiny lizards in India…wherever I live in Oregon will be a step up. I’ll have my health. I’ll have a fantastic roommate who cares about me and will look out for me if needed. I’ll have every new opportunity I could ever imaging presenting itself to me, all while wearing the cool vibe of Portlandia…

I’m still terrified. But maybe I can be terrified in a way that at least puts things into perspective. I had this same mini-panic a few weeks before I went to India…this time last year, actually. I just sat there and thought, “I cannot do this.” But I did it. I’m kinda awesome.

It’ll be more than fine. This new part of my life is going to be epic. 

You guys, I figured it out. Just now, totally unexpectedly as a breeze ran through the window I’m sitting next to: it’s rain smell. Rain smell, combined with all those other cleansing qualities and new opportunities that rain represents. It’s rain smell that inspires us, with its woody, green notes and crisp coldness. No matter where I travel, rain smells like the Pacific Northwest. Even when I was in India, rain brought me home.

Let Us Take a Trip Through Time


Let’s go back — far back (and I mean faaaar back, like a whole 4 years ago). Look into my crystal ball to see…

Teenage Cappy: writer, high school student and Strokes fan extraordinaire. She had long blonde hair, bangs, and was just learning how to do a cat eye (oh, so young with so much to learn about brow pencil and lipstick).

We’ll zoom in to April 2011, when Cappy was finishing her novella, Dark Blue, which showed promise to be one of the most forgotten works for young adults to date. Though…even I must admit, it was still a better love story than Twilight. Dark Blue told the story of a girl who found out her father had cheated on her mother with the mom of her crush. Confusing? Check. Bizarre and uncomfortable? Possibly. Unique storyline? Admittedly, yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Regardless, it featured some of the most contrived banter-dialogue known to man. See for yourself:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.38.05 PM

Notice how frequently high-school-Cappy mentions and/or describes hairstyles in this particular excerpt. Classic. Believe me, there was a lot of “disheveled hair-flipping” and probably a few more brooding looks coming from Mack in that chapter, much less in the entire 116 page novella. The reader (whoever that is, unless the NSA hacked into my creative writing computer file) later finds that he was looking at her intently WITH HIS DARK BLUE EYES. OH LOOK, THERE’S THE TITLE.

Skip forward a bit to Bea and Mack realizing their parents had an affair 10 years prior. Slowly (really quickly within the span of about 15 pages) they fall in “love” even though Bea initially thought he was a stupid jock (he was just misunderstood!) and bond over their intense infatuation with The Strokes and other various indie/garage rock bands. Bea argues a lot with her dad (it’s weird to go back and see how much of my own life is reflected in this story) and Mack does something that makes Bea mad. Bea goes on some dates with a British exchange student who ends up only wanting her for sex (he is a total stock character if I ever wrote one) and Bea feels conflicted! OH GOD THE ANGST. Maggie’s character really only exists to serve as a stark contrast to Bea, and so fully embodies the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that I’m surprised I didn’t actually know that trope existed until years after I wrote her character.

Dark Blue is fun to read over again, because it gives me a little glimpse of Cappy from 4 years ago. She just wanted to fall in love with a boy who liked music and played soccer and had dark hair, regardless of how FLAT HIS PERSONALITY WAS (oh my God it’s almost embarrassing how boring Mack is). It’s nice to see how far I’ve come (I now date jerky guys and pretty girls with long hair, so it’s kind of a step up).

Maybe I can salvage some plot points, rewrite some of the characters (literally every single character) and fix the dialogue (which may take the rest of my life, if we’re being realistic). I didn’t start this post with the intention of ripping apart the story I wrote when I was 17 years old, but it just happened. It’s so good to laugh at myself a little.

To be fair…it’s a damn good attempt. I wrote something with a beginning, middle, and end, and it was 116 pages long and took a year to write, and it made me feel accomplished. It’s better than some actual published books I’ve read (sorry E.L. James, but I still think I was a better writer than you when I was 17 and I didn’t even have to rely on bondage to make my plot at least somewhat interesting). I love going back and seeing where I was, because at least I can point to some new stuff I’ve written and say “I’ve come pretty freaking far.” It doesn’t discourage me from writing; in fact, it encourages me, because it shows me how much I can grow in a short time if I just keep writing.

Am I the first writer to give her own novella a bad review? Probably not. And anyway, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on.

xo

Oh…did I mention that I began each chapter with a song lyric that embodied that chapter? Because I did. The prologue describing Bea’s parents’ divorce started with a Tupac line. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

Happy Happy


I just wanted to sit down and write something in the middle of the night because…I’m happy.

I’m happy because I’m warm in my bed and it’s absolutely frigid outside. I’m happy because I’m going home this weekend to visit my family and exist outside of this college town for a few days. I’m reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, and every page I read reminds me of who I’m going to become — spirited and wise and silly. I played so much guitar yesterday that my fingers are still sore today. I’m listening to The Doors, Peter Paul and Mary, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young…and realizing how much beautiful music has made my life worth living. I spent the day with my roommate studying at a coffee shop and actually got a lot of work done. I’m happy because I’ve got two exams this week and feel enormously unprepared for both of them but…when has that ever stopped me? There’s always time.

I’ve found people I love and I spend time with them. I tell them how I feel about them. They feel the same way back.

I smell like incense almost every day because I bought champa flower oil and haven’t been able to stop sniffing myself for the past year. I worked out and ate cookies today.

I’m happy because…I’m me. And I’m a happy person. Even the word “happy” looks happy and that makes me happy, too.

Henrietta


henrietta letters

Oh yeah, and I got some pretty sweet cat salt and pepper shakers, too. You’re welcome.

I’d never liked antiquing before — my mother half-dragging me around rooms full of musty nonsense that nobody wanted, my feet tired, my nose stinging a little from all that dust and “history.” History in quotes, of course, because much of it seems to be weird plastic crap from the 1970s that got tossed out of someone’s basement and somehow landed in a shop dubbed as an “antique.” But my family took a trip to a little town on the river and found an amazing shop with proper, beautiful antiques. Vases, gorgeous old pipes, well-preserved powder blue suitcases, lamps, a strangely huge collection of salt and pepper shakers and finally…a stack of old letters spanning from 1913 to 1935 chronicling the life of Henrietta, a woman from California whose husband died of influenza in 1918, whose children grew up and sent her postcards from their trips throughout the state, whose sister and disabled brother sent her darling letters, drawings, and times tables. My favorite envelope simply contains a newspaper clipping of a burned-down building, with the words “our old playgrounds are ruined” in thick pencil-scrawled cursive.

I hadn’t written or been inspired to write since I left India. Life has felt like a blur, and a not-so-pleasant one at that, since I returned. I miss my life in Bangalore, miss the way people treated me and loved me and randomly took photos with me, miss the bizarre hole-ridden sidewalks and too-strong milk in bags, miss the food (oh, the food), miss rickshaw rides through monsoons. I often find myself up at night wishing I were back there, even though I love being home in the states, where it’s actually quiet at night and I don’t have to wear long pants in 90 degrees with 80% humidity. I’m glad I don’t have E. coli anymore, which finally ended its long romp inside my intestines after 4 weeks of the most impressive diarrhea imaginable. But I want to go back. It’s particularly hard because I was supposed to be there for 10 weeks and left after 4 instead, so in my mind I’m supposed to be there, not here doing yard work at 7 a.m. or living in the country with only a few friends around. I got used to never being alone, always having something to look at or taste or laugh about (so many goats), and writing is such a solitary activity that I think I’ve been avoiding it.

But then…Henrietta. Henrietta has a story to tell, and I’ve been researching her family tree and census records, trying to get a timeline so I can imagine her life and recreate it on paper. She came to me on old, yellowed paper, wrapped in a pink ribbon, and it’s my job, my duty even, to do her justice. You’ll see the results. Not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but someday you’ll meet Henrietta.

Many thanks to my reader Hans, whose kind words and constant reassurance always add a little joy to my day! (Basically, he was like “Why don’t you write anymore” and I was like “Good question” and that was like…that.)

Skin


Yesterday, my poetry professor asked if my “write” tattoo was part of the Skin project by Shelley Jackson from 2004. When I explained that I would’ve been 11 years old in 2004, so my tattoo didn’t stem from that particular project, he explained it to me.

I’m obsessed and in awe and shocked and in love and…so upset that I couldn’t be a part of that project. Because it’s honestly the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever heard.

Shelley Jackson wrote a 2,095 word story and asked that people come forward and get one of those words tattooed on their body. The participants had no choice in which word they would receive, though they could refuse to get the tattoo if they so chose. Most of those words, outside of the context, would seem completely random, and a lot of them involve one end of punctuation, like back,”. She has the word “skin” — the title of the story — tattooed on her body. And no one, no one besides these people and Shelley Jackson herself, know the story.

Shelley refers to these people as her words. When they die, she will try her best to attend their funerals. And when they’ve all passed, the story is over. The story is gone.

There’s something so perfect about this. These 2,095 people, scattered around the world, are connected forever. There is a secret story that binds them. Isn’t that the most ingenious, wonderful notion you’ve ever heard?

Merry Christmas, Plebeians


We were going for “romantic” but Mickey’s rockstar heart just can’t be tamed.

Dear Friends,

Well, 2013 sure did fly by — like me, on my private jet, flying off to Morocco. I have, once again, had an amazing year that was probably much more exciting than yours.

As you probably read in the tabloids, my new lover Mickey and I were swept up in a whirlwind romance that culminated in him proposing atop the Eiffel Tower a few months ago. As we prepare for our lavish wedding in the Bahamas, we wanted to make sure we kept you up to date with our lives, since you will definitely not be getting an invite to the wedding. It’s very exclusive, and you’re just…not exclusive material.

When my latest book, Welcome to Paradise: A Memoir of Fame, Glory and Striking Beauty hit the shelves earlier this year, I was hailed by critics as “clearly having a better life than anyone else on the planet” and “a perfect example of why other people should just sit down and stop trying, since Cappy is so much better than anyone else ever could be.” Obviously, the book wasn’t as popular as I’d hoped (is a Pulitzer really too much to ask for?), but those reviews were rather sweet.

I travelled the world on yet another exhausting book tour over the summer. Asia was particularly difficult because, wherever I went, fans wanted photos with me. It must’ve been my gorgeous face, long legs and blonde hair that really made them love me. Well, that and the fact that I inspire awe wherever I go.

I dyed my gorgeous locks pink for charity earlier this month, and have been offered several modeling gigs since. I guess I just have “the look” now (who am I kidding — I’ve always had the look). I’ve turned them all down, of course, because with my hectic schedule and amazing love life I just don’t have the time. Besides, I wouldn’t want to make the other models jealous of my natural, raw talent.

Mickey has been trying to relax lately. After his recent tour of North America with his rock band, The Cat’s Meow, he came home to our New York apartment and slept for a week. When he woke up, we started a strict sushi diet — all that fish oil is really very good for the hair, you know — and have been lounging around and opening our Christmas presents from our adoring fans.

We love you. Without you, we’d have no one to brag to about our important lives. We expect amazing things in 2014 and hope you stay healthy for another year so you’re around to hear us brag about our accomplishments in the next Christmas letter.

xo

We love you!

We love you!

An Ode to a Pencil


Silver-grey lines
become wisps, spirits
like seagull wings in flight
capturing impermanent
imperfect
rushes of ideas, which
to me are more stunning than final drafts.

You are worth more
than bubbles on answer sheets,
short essays in high school.
You deserve to become
a novel
a love note
a sonnet
poetic devices stretched out along blue horizons.

You should be bowed to,
your wooden soul propped on a pedestal
and worshipped by the meek
for they shall inherit the earth
one silver-grey line at a time.

I’m gonna read this aloud tonight, y’all. It’s the perfect embodiment of everything I feel when I write, and it needs to be spoken. So tonight, at a burrito joint downtown, the world will hear my ode to a pencil. xoxo

Snow Globe


I want to rummage through stacks of books with you.
Dirty, musty books
so when we rustle their pages we choke with joy.
I want to sit on the floor, legs crossed
and pile adventures in my lap.
You’ll stand on a stack of encyclopedias and reach for
that perfect copy of Don Quixote
while I flip through Robinson Crusoe
until you reach down and say, “I found this one for you.”
I want to be lost with you inside a fiction more beautiful than the
huge snow globe we inhabit
always shaken by someone else til we’re displaced
tiny flakes in a fish tank.
So I think if I have to get lost, I’d like to be holding your hand
when my dreams for this life
seem so broken
like this damned snow globe
because aren’t they supposed to make you smile
and turn the sky white?
The sky was grey today. This snow globe’s defective.
I want to be poor with you
but only with you
because poverty isn’t romantic
unless all the riches in the world exist in the gold flecks in your eyes.
I want to be anything with you
because you’ll be anything with me
and that could stop this snow globe shaking.

With this, I revamp my current poetry series from one about my childhood to a poetry series about anything, because…why restrict myself? Poetry is freeing, and I need to be freed right now. Cheers. Let’s all work on making this snow globe a little better.