My own (belated) Nanowrimo: Day 2, Part 2: “Annie, You’re Dead”

Yesterday I decided that since I skipped Nanowrimo, I would do my own Nanowrimo, over a month later.  I read that the purpose of the project was not only to write a novel, but to just put your ideas down and write, so you’re not overanalyzing what you’re writing, and kind of harboring your own inner genius that way.  I really liked that notion, because I struggle to write fiction.  “What if,” I thought, “I just sat down and wrote whatever words came to mind, without really pausing to consider?”  Yesterday, thus, the first installment of my prospective novel, “Annie, You’re Dead,” was posted on my blog.  Today I’m posting the second part.  I’m trying to write 1,700 words a day.

I didn’t provide any background, yesterday.  I have a friend, whose name I’ve changed.  She died two and a half years ago, though I won’t say why, because I hope that will be revealed later in the story.  I used to have dreams of her coming back to life to hang out with me, so I decided to change those dreams into a novel.  I can’t say this is the result, exactly, because this will, I’m sure, require a lot of revision.  This, thus, is the early byproduct of those dreams.  Today is my second day of writing.  Here is the first part of the to-be-novel, from Day One. Continue reading “My own (belated) Nanowrimo: Day 2, Part 2: “Annie, You’re Dead””

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My own (belated) Nanowrimo: Day 2, Part 2: “Annie, You’re Dead”

My own (belated) NanoWrimo: Day One/Part One: “Annie, You’re Dead”

                                                    1 – If Oreos Could Talk 

She opened the Tupperware container and removed two more oreos, hoping that James wouldn’t notice they were gone when he came over later tonight; they were his private stash, that he kept at her apartment, and she liked to pretend she didn’t eat them.  She was wearing black and gold – an ornate black and gold necklace with decorative flowers on it, from the edgy clothing store she worked while earning her PhD.  She was wearing black and gold – and her hair was flipped a little toward the side, which she did sometimes to try to make it look more voluminous, although, she thought, the trick never worked really that well.  Still, when her hair was parted in the center, it looked too flat, like it was painted to the top of her head and stuck to the side of her face.  She didn’t much like that.  She had never much liked her hair, for that matter.

Her leggings were black, speckled with gold, and she had black knee socks on over them, because the weather was cold, and socks were more comfortable than shoes.  She had on a blazer which, really, she thought, was a bit excessive for the outfit, but then, it was early winter.  A thick, even layer of snow lined the roof of the little wooden shed across the street, which she could see through one of her apartment’s front windows, and at the edge of the window, where it met the wall, through the pane, she could see the house next to the shed, and the long icicles hanging off it like big crystalline needles.  It was winter, and so she wore a coat with her dress.

As for her friend Annie, Annie was dead, but that didn’t matter much.  Annie was dead, but Annie had always been a willful woman.  She’d adamantly resisted anything she didn’t like in life – at least, for the most part – and so it didn’t surprise Michelle anymore that Annie had resisted death.  For Annie was dead, but as Michelle had found out a few weeks ago, Annie wasn’t really dead, not dead dead, not dead as a doornail, the way decomposing corpses below the earth are dead – although surely, Annie’s decomposed corpse did lie beneath the earth, even as – however confusing it was – her embodied spirit hung out some days in Michelle’s living room, practically salivating for the latest gossip about their circle of friends.

Michelle thought of the theories of the specter that she was studying in one of her doctoral classes.  According to Jacques Derrida, the specter disrupted the binary between life and death, altered space and time, and signaled the presence of injustice.  Michelle didn’t see all of this happening with Annie’s presence, yet, although some of it was true.  Space and time were like they always were, linear, meandering, and perpetually vacillating between the stimulating and the mundane, with some long, anxious hours in between that Michelle usually filled by eating cookies.  But Annie certainly disrupted the binary between life and death, for once she had been alive, and then she died.  And now, though dead, some afternoons Michelle found Annie in her living room, asking for a cup of coffee.  And as for signaling the presence of injustice, well, that one was easy – or was it?  What type of injustice did Annie signal?   Michelle thought about it. Certainly, there were many possibilities, for further consideration, perhaps, at a later date.  After all, it was almost time.

She looked at the clock and it read 11:58 A.M.  Annie came at noon every day that she came, although she didn’t come every day.  Michelle thought it was funny, and very like Annie to come in the middle of the afternoon, when the sun hung high in the sky and warmed the earth with its rays – which it even did, sometimes, on cold winter days like today – instead of coming at midnight like Jacob Marley and ghosts in other ghost stories.  It actually made perfect sense.  Annie had been one of the warmest people Michelle knew.  In life it was almost ridiculous how much people liked her – or so Michelle thought on her more bitter days, when she was feeling competitive or imagining that nobody in the world liked her nearly enough.  There would be no logic or purpose to Annie coming at midnight, anyway, when Michelle didn’t have as long to talk because she was going to bed soon.  So Michelle was rather glad that Annie came at noon, and she washed the oreo crumbs off her hands as she waited to find out whether or not she would hear a knock on the door.  Sure enough, as soon as the digital microwave clock struck twelve – Michelle had no idea how Annie had adjusted her time to the microwave clock in her kitchen – she heard the gentle “rum, pum, pum” of Annie’s hand on the front door.

 

                                                   2 – The Afternoon of the Sassy Dead

Michelle made it a point to hurry to the door whenever her dead friend Annie knocked, which, like I said, was always at noon when it happened at all, precisely three hours and eighteen minutes before the mailman came, often with boxes of books or clothes for Michelle, or comic books for James, who sometimes had his stuff shipped to her apartment.  The first time Annie had ever come to visit, Michelle had been in the shower.  Annie displayed a mixture of patience and impatience when this happened.  Michelle emerged from the bathroom, dripping wet and in a towel, only to hear the rhythmic “thum, tum, tum” on her front door.  Not knowing, or not thinking, that it was Annie, she yelled “hold on,” and went upstairs to throw on some leggings and an oversized shirt, like the heroine of an 80’s movie.  The knocking continued, in an oddly rhythmic manner, so that it sounded vaguely like part of a percussion section or a high school marching band.  Michelle was both surprised, and a bit creeped out, by the steady, rhythmic, ceaseless knocking, accompanied by no voice.

To make matters worse, she fell down the stairs on her way to answering the door.  She had on fuzzy, wooly socks – Annie had first come about a month ago, and it was cold then, too – and somehow, as tended to happen with her, her foot slipped and she thudded down three stairs before grabbing her balance on the railing and composing herself, hoping, as she stood up and brushed herself off, that the mysterious visitor outside didn’t hear the ka-thump of her fall and the ensuing “Oh shit, ow, fuck” that exited her mouth.  It was, after all, a little embarrassing, and she was a little annoyed with this weirdly melodic and exhaustingly relentless knocker who was not going to stop knocking until Michelle answered the door.  She didn’t think to look out the peep hole, as you may have gathered by this point in the narrative, not even that first day Annie came, when she had no idea who was at the door.  To be truthful, it could be because the writer behind this story is a mere novice, and didn’t bother to think that most reasonable human beings would do just that before rushing to open the door  for an unexpected and anonymous guest.  Conversely, it could also be because Michelle was fixated on the challenge of getting dressed quickly and opening the door in a timely fashion, so she efficiently moved from one maneuver to the next, omitting any ancillary, unnecessary steps that would veer her off track and put more time between the first knock and her eventual ability to open the door, fully clothed.  Either version of events is plausible, and, as you’ve gathered, they’re not mutually exclusive, so you can decide what part of the story to believe.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on….” She had yelled, and then considered that she sounded rather rude.  What if it was someone of some importance knocking on the door?  The occurrence was not likely, but it was possible nonetheless.  And even if it wasn’t an eminent member of society – she chuckled and laughed at the exaggerated pompousness of her own wording – even if it wasn’t Barack Obama asking her to hang out now that he was retired, it was still important to treat people nicely.  Even if, she thought, they’re handing out religious pamphlets or selling candy bars.  So Michelle adjusted her tone and said, “Sorry, one second please.  I was indisposed.”

“No problem, Michelle, although I will say it takes you quite awhile to pull yourself together.  No wonder you were always late when you picked me up.”  Michelle didn’t really have time to consider this remark, although in the back of her mind, she recognized the voice and registered that the remark was, well, rather bizarre.  “Just as long as you get to the door eventually.  I haven’t seen you in awhile and I’ve heard you changed a lot since….well, since I saw you.”

Michelle had gotten more intrigued with that remark.  Who was this mysterious visitor?

Of course, the rest of the story tells itself.  But if you lack imagination – which you well might, in this age of consumerism and technology – I’ll tell it for you.  Michelle saw Annie, not dead, not decayed, not ugly.  She was wearing the cute artsie hippie outfits she always wore, and she was smiling.  Her cheeks were blushed, and a little fuller than they’d been in life.  She looked very much alive.  And for Michelle, it was one of those moments when she would have expected to be terrified but wasn’t, and was instead very calm and focused, like when her brakes went out on a busy road in the center of the city.  Annie looked, well, exactly like Annie, except happier and healthier than when she was alive.  The only other difference between Annie-in-life and Annie-in-death – or Annie between-life-and-death – was that this Annie’s feet were hovered just a little bit above the ground, so that she was suspended in mid air, about three inches above Michelle’s concrete porch.

“You can’t stand on solid ground?”  was thus Michelle’s first question – indeed, her first utterance – when she saw Annie.  Of course, it would have been customary to say hello, but Michelle had already conjectured that her dear, deceased best friend was now a ghost, and ghosts had always fascinated Michelle.  She wanted to understand how her undead friend operated, so to speak.

“Well that’s a fine greeting,” Annie responded. “Nice to see you, too.”  And then, without being invited, she nonchalantly floated into Michelle’s apartment, and headed straight for the oreos.  “Before you eat them all,” she said sardonically.

My own (belated) NanoWrimo: Day One/Part One: “Annie, You’re Dead”

The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative

the shining 4.3In the beginning of Place: An Introduction, Tim Cresswell describes the significance of placing a specific art exhibit, one foregrounding Bollywood movies, in an elite Swedish town where only the 1% tend to visit, in part because it’s difficult to get there.  Cresswell includes the following quote in his introduction: “ ‘It’s difficult to get to,’ Mr. Wakefield added, ‘but because of that, it also demands a different kind of attention.  You discover the art through the place and the place through the art.’  The exhibition at Gstaad reflects a wider interest in how art and place interact on the part of both the artists and art theorists” (2).  This got me thinking that it might be intriguing to examine The Shining not just from a few lenses but – perhaps – from the intersection of a few lenses:  Space or place, as its conveyed in the film, the cultural space in which the film is produced, and the current cultural space in which I, the viewer, am watching the film.  This move, I think, is necessarily spectral, or turns the art under examination into a specter that disrupts linear time, since I become sort of engaged in this spectral moment, where I’m looking at the art forward, backward, etc – and this is especially true of The Shining, which situates its primary space, The Overlook Hotel, as a place that’s both mad and spectral, that consistently – if not constantly – manifests itself as a presence in the spectral moment by embodying both the past and the present – and, to the contemporary viewer, the more recent past (1921, 1980, 2017, but arranged as 2017 encompassing a film that shifts back and forth between 1921 and 1980, that begins by emphasizing 1980 but ends by emphasizing 1921).  As a “cautionary note,” I found, as I was watching, that it was challenging to thread the entirety of this analysis throughout my interpretation of the film, especially for a blog post, but that’s the general angle I’m coming from when I look at the film.  (As a sidenote, I wonder the extent to which we could deduce that all art is “spectral” – or maybe that’s what I’m getting at, but that seems like a sweeping argument for a later time).     Continue reading “The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative”

The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative

The Blue Man – Or, This is Not a Horror Story

True to the title of my piece, this is not a horror story.  Although, what I see now that I didn’t see when things like this happened was just how much my friend and I wanted it to be a horror story, how much we enacted the things that we read in our Fear Street books and our horror movies, and made the world of horror come alive, if, simultaneously, to our delight and our chagrin.  Again, this is not a horror story.  This is a childhood memory – a childhood memory I share on an overcast day in early November, when my frenetic, two-and-a-half-month mania has dwindled and I’ve suddenly fallen into this shifting state that fluctuates between focused, positive energy and complete depression and self-loathing.  This is not a horror story—at least, I hadn’t intended it to be so.  But, maybe it will turn out that way as I keep writing.  One never can predict the end of the story, after all—or, at least, I can’t—when one’s merely writing the beginning.  Continue reading “The Blue Man – Or, This is Not a Horror Story”

The Blue Man – Or, This is Not a Horror Story

Re-visiting the Grotesque: Another Look at John Carpenter’s The Thing

Thing OneAlmost two years ago on this blog, I watched and wrote about John Carpenter’s widely viewed and broadly acclaimed The Thing.  This year, for Halloween, I decided to re-visit this incredibly disgusting movie, which was, fortuitously, part of my coursework this week.  In my first post, I wrote about the rampant paranoia fostered by knowing there’s a hideous, murderous monster in at least one of the people around you, but not knowing who houses it – whose body hides the formidable “thing.”  I’m not really in the mood to look up my old post, re-read it, and make sure I’m writing something new, especially since it’s one of my least read posts on this blog.  So, we’ll have to trust that, two years and ample coursework later, I’m making some new observations about this sickening, human-beast amalgam as I write this post.  With that in mind, let’s dive into the uncomfortably unappealing (or, perhaps, the uncomfortably appealing – for whether “the thing” is appealing or unappealing is a question that remains to be grappled with, and perhaps will be grappled with in this post!) Continue reading “Re-visiting the Grotesque: Another Look at John Carpenter’s The Thing”

Re-visiting the Grotesque: Another Look at John Carpenter’s The Thing

Seeing Jigsaw in the Fall

JigsawIt is autumn and the leaves are changing. It is autumn and the leaves are changing from green to golds and reds and oranges, and on the movie theater screen sociopathic killers are hacking, sawing limbs and spewing blood and dismembering bodies and organs with reckless, indifferent, gleeful, often retaliatory or vengeful abandon. We buy things pumpkin flavored – like the venerable pumpkin spice coffee options – and sip hot cocoa and caramel apple cider as we smear fake blood on the sides of lips, shove vampire fangs inside our mouths, and delight in the temporary, transitory, audacious and ostentatious embodiment of the so-called monster, that cultural construct who signifies panic, disruption, mayhem. It is autumn, and so – at least, for those of us who like the season – we are not sure if we’re in some transcendental, umbrage-speckled heaven or the depths of a fiendish, delightful, playful sort of hell. It is autumn and, perhaps, we’re not sure how to feel, but in any case we indulge deliciously in the feeling, the feeling of change, the feelings of alleged paradox, the feelings of fall-ness. See, I just created a word: fall-ness. Often times, during autumn, we delight in fall-ness. Continue reading “Seeing Jigsaw in the Fall”

Seeing Jigsaw in the Fall

Confronting the Other: Contemplating District 9

District 9 5Ridley Scott once asserted that if another life form came to visit earth, it’d be best to flee immediately, because the life form’s intentions assuredly wouldn’t be good.  One the one hand, this premise seems contestable, like a sort of specie-ism that naturally pits “all against all” and relies on a narrative of innate hostility, in which the alien “other” is necessarily a dangerous, malicious being.  On the other hand, it would, presumably, be a long journey from the unknown planet to earth, and what might motivations for that journey be?  Far be it for us to assume extra-terrestrial intentions would necessarily be negative, but one can see how Scott’s line of reasoning is defensible.  I watched District 9 last night and, I think, it situates itself with a bit of ambivalence, but mostly on one side of the narrative.  District 9 suggests that an extra-terrestrial “other” who arrives on earth need only be hostile if we make them so, and even then, perhaps the alien-other isn’t as hostile as those skulking around the next corner, waiting to mercilessly obliterate him or her. Continue reading “Confronting the Other: Contemplating District 9”

Confronting the Other: Contemplating District 9