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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Dalai Lama

I am waiting for a super famous literary agent to read my book again.
The last time I was engaged in this particular torment, I panicked and wrote to him that it needed more work, I needed some more time, etc. This after spending four hours with my old high school English teacher critiquing my book over about eight cups of coffee.
"You look like a jackass here." he said."Cut this line, and this one."
"This makes you look like you are full of self pity. Delete it."

This is, by the way, the loveliest present that someone can give me-critique. No one has the nerve to do it, and I need it to make the story better. I've been writing this thing for almost three years-I can't even see it anymore. When my friend Cece read it i told her-
"You wouldn't let me leave the house with camel toe, would you? This is the literary equivalent to that. Don't let me make an asshole out of myself just to be polite."
Now she can't get the phrase "literary camel toe" out of her head. I catch her mumbling it sometimes when she think I can't hear her.

After my English teacher's critique I pulled out of the parking lot and frantically drove home, speeding, panic rising with every mile.

Oh my God, I thought, filled with horror. What have I done?

The minute I walked in the door I sat down and emailed the agent, hoping he hadn't already started, to say Stop! I need more time!
He wrote back, he'd already started it, but he had some really insightful advice for making it better.
I've spent the last three weeks making all the changes I could see that it needed. Then I spent four days re-reading it to see if I could find any more.
Done, I thought.
Then I hit send.
For about a day I felt a sense of peace. I worked on other writing projects, sewed dresses, finished some fantastically late custom orders for very patient people.
Then, while Ruby was taking her nap, I decided to google the agent.


I should not have done that.

I knew that he was Augusten Burrough's agent, that's why I contacted him in the first place. But beyond that, I knew nothing.

"Even if he rejects the book," I thought."He is one person removed from Augusten Burroughs. His eyes have looked into Augusten Burroughs' eyes during particulary intense editing sessions-it is almost like both of them are reading it right now."

For me, that is like having what a slumber party with Hanna Montana would be like for your average 37 year old male, or meeting the judges on American Idol. Famous people don't interest me-unless they are artists or writers. Then I indulge in freak outs.

"Have you googled this guy?" someone asked me.
"No," I shrugged." Not beyond 'Augusten Burroughs agent"
"You should," they said.

So I did.

Come to find out, he is also Stephen King's agent.
Wait it gets better-
he also represents the Dalai Lama.

Peaceful detachment-exit stage left.

"Oh my God." I called my friend Donna."What have I done?"

"Does he also represent Jesus Christ?" she asked."Great credentials. That Bible was an international bestseller, huh?"

"Donna- The Dalai. Fucking. Lama.I should have worked on the book at least five more years before I sent it to this guy."

"AWW, bullshit," she said. Donna is, by the way, my most famous friend-her films have won awards at Cannes, but she never talks about it. Ever. We were close for two years before I heard some of her crazy stories."He's just a guy. If he doesn't like it-so what? I do, and I'm a genius."

I could see the Dalai Lama somewhere in India, hitting refresh on his hotmail every ten minutes, as he waits for my guy to read HIS book.

"No, No, I can't meditate for the happiness of the world," He would say, waving off his followers."Don't you understand, I am waiting for my agent to email me about my book!"

This man, or his agency-I can't quite get a bead on it, represents the Dalai Lama. Had I known that, I probably wouldn't have bothered contacting him in the first place. I may sometimes aspire to be a badass, but I'm not insane.

"I have a splitting headache." says the Dalai Lama."I can't take the suspense anymore.Will he like it? Will he hate it? Is that whole "Tibet" thing overdone, at the end? Bring me the Advil. No, No, we have some- I put it in that cupboard in my last lifetime."

Why did I Google him? I was doing just fine,embroidering next to the fire, watching Coraline, drinking bloody marys. Not really even waiting at all-just plain living.

"He may take six weeks to read it," I told myself. "Remember that other lady? She took three months. Detach."

I even Googled myself and looked up an excruciatingly embarrassing youtube video that Camel cigarettes filmed about me once. That's right-Camel cigarettes came to my house and did a mini documentary about me.I don't know why-it's not like i even smoke Camels. I don't smoke, or mention smoking or camels, in the video at all. The whole thing was perplexing.

Because I loathe seeing myself on video I'd never actually watched it. It made me cringe, I always had to stop after a few seconds.
This time, I watched it, sat there in horror as a tiny me pranced around, weird and awkward and just foreign looking( do I really sound that way? Is that what my face looks like when I talk/ Jesus.)

I did this to remind myself that maybe-if he says no-if they all say no and I just decide at some point not to publish it-that could be great too because I would never have to do a video interview again.
Maybe you think I am putting you on about this, exaggerating how distasteful it is into an affectation,
"Oh, I hate all this attention! Oh my!"
No, I am serious. It's horrifying. You have to do it to be any kind of artist, but watching the youtube video made me realize that there would be a true silver lining to never having to talk to anyone else in person-about me, myself, what i do, etc.

It is so different to talk about yourself than to write about your life-
talking about yourself can make you feel like an asshole.

I wonder if the Dalai lama has problems with this?

"I'm going to reincarnate as a gas station attendant next time," he is thinking,"I just need a break. Jesus, did you see me on youtube with Obama? How embarrassing."

Then he checks his email again.

Ghost Story

Can it possibly be true that I am the only person who has never seen a ghost?
I just finished reading "Her Fearful Symmetry" by the same woman who wrote The Time Travelers Wife. It was really good.
I am really impressionable.
"I think there is a ghost in the house," I told Jeff."That is why I'm always cold. Also, that explains the missing 400 dollars."
"What are you reading right now?" He eyed me with suspicion.
So I've been thinking about ghosts even though I don't believe in them, or anything, really. I told my friend Sarah this last night.
"There is a ghost attached to my favorite necklace!" she cried."It's in the garage!"
"I took it out to the garage last week because of the ghost."
"Why do you think there is a ghost attached to your necklace?" I asked, feeling crazy for asking, but curious.
"I told my friend that since I got it all of my other necklaces have broken. She took it in to this shaman she works with-"
Dont even ask, I thought.
"And he said there is an evil spirit attached to the stone, so I took it off."
"Give it to me," I told her."I will evict the ghost."
I said this because
A. I don't believe in the supernatural.
B. I really want to see something supernatural.
"Oh we've seen ghosts," she said."My whole family saw one once.'
Hey, spirit world-why not me? What is wrong with me? Everyone I know has some stupid ghost story and all I have to counter with is-"One time me and my ex boyfriend had a similar dream on the same night."
It's so embarrassing.
Why can't I see some bullshit? And don't tell me it's because I don't believe, because I used to believe in EVERYTHING. You could tell me that in our past lives I owed you five dollars and I'd start pulling bills out of my purse. I was so gullible a man once convinced me that he flew around in his sleep having conversations with my pug dog, Jack.
"What did Jack say?' I asked."Is he happy?"
"He wants you to change his food." the man said.
So I did.
So why can't I see some bullshit?
Maybe this haunted necklace will wreak some havoc. An EVIL ghost-surely more powerful than some ordinary, nice one. More likely to pull my child into the white static on the TV or rattle the dishes, trying to communicate it's evil plans to me. Or just scare me, if it's evil then I'm sure it loves to scare a bitch, right?
She gave it to me, an ordinary labadorite stone. I wore it home.
"What's that?" asked Jeff.
I told him.
"I don't want an evil spirit in the house Sunny."
"What? It's just a necklace, dude."
"No way," he shook his head."I saw a ghost once."
"Jesus - you too? What is wrong with me?" I asked, frustrated.
I hope that the ghost does present itself to me. Anyone have any suggestions, all you people out there with your I'm-so-superior-I've-seen-stuff attitudes?
Today I have had heartburn, but not ghostly heartburn. I've also been really cold( when spirits pass through you-it makes you shiver-so I'm told) but it's snowing here today-so..
And the lights have been dimming. I'm not making that up. They are flickering and dimming every time I walk into the room.
But it could be the weather.
That better not be the extent of it. It better not be some weak ass ghost, not even evil just slightly put out, messing with my lights but never rearing up out of the fireplace in the form of a smoke dragon, or appearing behind me covered in blood in the mirror.
How do i let the ghost know that I want to see it? Maybe it's not technically "Evil" just dark and sarcastic. I would love that kind of ghost.
"What if it's already possessed me?" I thought. Maybe that is why I have a strong craving for tomato soup.
If it really is evil, that could be okay-I could help it draw up plans for it's schemes. I don't mind.I wouldn't even mind if my hair turned white-it would save so much money-not having to worry about getting my highlights done every month.
Send me your ghost stories. If I'm going to be continually rejected by the spirit world then let me live vicariously through you.

Update on Caitlyn-
She is at home, still doing the Optimum Health Institute's detox program. She is growing her own wheatgrass juice and fasting like they teach you to do there. When she gets her blood count done again I'll post about what she learns, hopefully it will be a dramatic improvement. My aunt had to do the program for six months before her cancer went into remission, so we are trying to be patient.
Meanwhile she's decided to take time off from school to write her memoir-which I'll be helping her with as much as I can. She's a brilliant writer and her story is crazy and compelling. I'm really excited to see where it goes( my dream-she will go into complete remission, write a badass book about growing up in the foster care system and we will meet in New York at the secret published book writer's club over wheatgrass and espresso. If not, I just dream she'll get better so she can help me break into that whore's house to steal back my jacket)