No Small Thing

Today is my last day as an intern at Gotham. Three months really moved quickly. I could go on and on about all the things I’ve seen/learned/laughed about here but it’ll take too long and I’m all about that brevity, man.

I don’t have too many writer friends in my day-to-day life. My friends couldn’t care less about literature. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of them haven’t read a book since puberty, and I’m fine with that, but it’s been really special to have a place to come three days a week for the past twelve weeks where everyone is passionate about writing and wants to help others become better writers as well. Working here, I’ve felt the same way I did when I joined the undergraduate creative writing program in college—warm and fuzzy and stuff on the inside about being around people who care about the same things I do. That chance doesn’t come around all that often.

Going into this, I didn’t have any customer service experience and to be honest, I didn’t expect how much of this gig would involve that. I’ve avoided that kind of work because I’ve never been comfortable with talking to people in that way—I tend to stutter and mumble a lot—but having to answer the phones here and talk to current and prospective students, I’ve gotten a lot better at it. It turns out it’s not that bad. It doesn’t freak me out anymore which is a huge step forward for me. I even have a phone voice now. I can walk away from here knowing I have that skill now and developing a new skill is, as I’ve learned, no small thing.

Now it’s time for my thank you’s…

To my fellow interns Josh and Syeda; thank you guys for helping me out and showing me the ropes when I first started here. It was nice to have one of you to turn to and ask a dumb question I was too embarrassed to ask out loud. Kim; thank you for bringing your positive attitude and your light to the intern desk. You were better than me at just about everything involved in this gig and it was good for me to have someone around that I can learn from. And, if you ever read this, congratulations on the baby!

Steph, Melissa, Kelly, Justin, and Charlie; thank you for all of the good jokes and conversation. Oh, and all of your help and patience. I couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to be around.

Alex and Dana; thank you for this opportunity and deeming me worthy of this internship. I hope I lived up to your expectations. You two have been so supportive and I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent here.

As for what’s next for me, I’m in an interesting spot for the next few weeks. I was accepted to Columbia University’s MFA writing program (which I still fully can’t wrap my head around). I’m also currently on the waitlist for BU and Brooklyn College. So as of now, I don’t really know where I’ll be in the next few months. I may even wait another year and try again with some other schools next fall. Whatever happens, I know that my people here at Gotham are rooting for me and I appreciate them for that.

So that’s it for me here. I’ll see you guys around.

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Best pens in the game. I’m taking some of these with me.

The Art Of Being Rejected

Being a writer is approximately 92% utter frustration and 8% sheer joy. That’s why you hear about how so many writers were depressed, alcoholics, addicts, and all manner of negative things. In my novel class this past term, one of my classmates and I would always remark after every class how much we hated that we were writers.

It’s such a flustering vocation with little consistency to speak of.

But perhaps the worst part about it is the regular string of rejections that every writer goes through. The literary world is full of rejections and you have to be adept at weathering these rejections in order to get to that 8% of sheer joy.

I say all of this because of my latest rejection (sob story incoming? Not quite… maybe…. let’s hope not). As I have been so happy to point out lately, I have a novel that I’ve submitted to several agents and I am now in the process of practicing patience (alliteration).

 

Naturally, a few letters came back right away saying that this wasn’t for them. Then more promising ones started coming in, the “I see what you’re going for, but I need more” letters, followed by the delightful “feel free to resubmit if you make revisions.”

Just yesterday, my first wave of agents came to a close as the last agent on my list responded with a no. 100% rejection. That leaves no room for the 8% of sheer joy. And I’m totally okay with that because I am in the midst of massive revisions anyway. But still, each letter telling me that they “weren’t captured” by my writing was kind of deflating.

Now I’m about to turn this optimistic, like when Matt Damon’s shelter on Mars blew up and he rebuilt it to survive.

It’s all part of the process. If every person said yes, it would be far more stressful than if most said no. How would you ever learn? How would you get ahead?

Plus, think of J.K. Rowling. She had Harry Potter rejected by literally everyone. Now it’s the biggest series ever. How do you think those people feel that passed on it?

Rejection totally sucks, but it’s necessary. Kind of like how maggots totally suck and are gross, but without them, nature would look like a bloodbath. Think about what maggots do. Rather then let all of these dead things clog up the world, they clean it up to look like new. A fresh start. A new beginning.

So next time you get rejected, dear writer, remember that maggots will eat away at that rejection and it will disappear. And then you can start again.

Doing Other Things

There’s nothing exciting about having to wait to hear back from grad schools. I don’t know if it’s really supposed to be an exciting time and I’m just missing something, but this waiting has added an entirely new dimension of stress to my life. And, because the expected timeline of hearing back from these schools is approaching, my anxiety over it all has reached a new level; I’m perpetually checking my application statuses and my email and I’m losing hours of sleep. It’s taking over everything. It’s all I talk about and it’s nothing anybody wants to hear.

These days, to keep my mind off of it, I’ve been trying to keep some distance from myself and anything literary, which is proving difficult because:

1.) I’m “a writer” (yeah, I still hate saying that)

2.) I love to read

3.) Receiving rejection emails from literary magazines hasn’t been great for my confidence

4.) I work at a creative writing school

5.) Making things more difficult for myself than they have to be is kind of my thing

So I started an initiative this past week to start doing other things that don’t involve writing or reading to keep my head on straight.

I started running again which has resulted in some pretty epic ankle pain (I’ve sprained both of my ankles twice in the past and they never healed right), I started watching more TV (Silicon Valley is as good as they say it is), I started listening to some podcasts (I know I’m embarrassingly late on this but “This American Life” really is A+ stuff), and I plan on getting some more painting done in the near future.

If I do get accepted into any of the MFA programs I’ve applied to, I’ll be elated. Actually, elated isn’t even the right word.

Maybe jubilant is better.

Or rapturous.

Something with some more umph.

I truly have no clue whether or not I’ll get in anywhere. For real. It could really go either way. I’ve been trying to be positive about it—trying to put it out there in the universe that I will get in somewhere. But it’s dishonest because I’ll never feel like my writing is good enough. Even if I do get in, I still probably definitely won’t believe it. But I think crazier things have happened than a schlub like me getting what he wants.

So for now, I’ll keep running and keep watching TV and keep trying to get more sleep. That’s all that I can do.

The Day Kim Chose Her Baby Over Gotham

On the train I was reading about Disney’s all time favorite songs and listed was one I had forgotten, Dumbo’s Baby Mine. So I youtube’d it and of course I balled immediately. Might be the baby that coming ever so soon OR IT COULD BE BECAUSE IT’S MY LAST DAY AS A GOTHAM INTERN!!!! I’m so sad. So quickly I’ve come to the end of the road here.

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Why is it when you’re surrounded by great people that time is quicker than lightening. I’m gonna miss working in such a great environment. The staff threw me a lunch and we chewed the fat for about 2 hours. It was great! How often do you get to have lunch with a fun group of people? Usually lunch is the time where you close off everyone and take a moment for yourself before you have to go back out there and deal with people again. But this was a break from that in the opposite. No dealing with people, just enjoying them. It was so…different to do that. It was nice to be a part of the 9-5ers. (although I still didn’t come in till after).

It was nice to be in the office with these people. Dana, all knowledgable, excellent taste in movies and careful with her Yoga music curation. Alex, always seeing where better can happen and coming up with outrageous ideas and proposals that wake the office with laughs. Justin, who also has a  vast knowledge of entertainment and filled us in with quips from the news. Melissa’s observations were as good as the treats she brought in. I don’t think I ever saw Steph without a smile on here face or an answer to my million grammar questions about ; or , . Kelly, who may be the kindest person on the planet. And Charlie who magically seemed to know and immediately be on it when I so much as THOUGHT of a tech question. Not to mention my intern buddies, Sip, Syeda, and Aaron who helped me forge forward when I was absolutely lost.

Dana did ask me what my best experience was here at Gotham. I thought about it but I couldn’t say one moment in particular. I think the carry away for me is grander than just one happening. It was change of perspective. I’ve worked at quite a few places in my life and I have to say that up until working here, my faith in companies in general was quite cynical. Why wouldn’t it be. Companies are businesses out to make money not make your particular life (as special as it might be to you) better. So customers being first is something I’m absolutely jaded on. Until I worked here.

I honestly haven’t encountered a school or company that really cared so much about the experience their students get. And they really do here. They want to make sure you get what you’re looking for out of this school. Sometimes much the the annoyance of people who want to skip ahead in writing levels because their natural talents have lead them to believe they also have the technique and language. Sometimes because an extreme circumstance calls for the bending of rule or two. They care. They care that YOU have a great experience here even if from time to time, it’s a little more work on our end. And thats pretty rare. And I know because I was here and in the time I was here it mattered to me. At first, for completely selfish reasons, I didn’t want to mess up my internship. But that evolved to also really caring about the people I dealt with on a daily basis. On the phone, through an email, at an event. And it felt good. To be a part of a community that could do both be a savvy business and good to it’s people at the same time. Certainly different.

So I guess my best experience is that my faith in some institutions isn’t as distrusting as when I started. Don’t get me wrong, I still think people should pull a good chunk of money out of their banks and put it somewhere only they know for the illuminati hack the banks and the impending apocalypse happens and only cash is king. But at least when that happens, here at Gotham they’ll still help you find the right class and get the best out of it.

So, so long for now. We are entering another term here at Gotham and I am entering another term of my own!

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xoxo

Kimmies

Your Voices in My Head

I like hearing people talk more than I like talking. Which is why I cherish Monday mornings. Because Monday mornings  are the day I get to check the voicemails from the weekend! I hear people’s questions about the school, sometimes they need to change or drop or be added to a waitlist, and sometimes they’re just calling to say they’re running late to an event from the weekend. 

I love hearing all of it! It sounds mundane but it’s not just messages, it’s the tone in which they are asked or stated and the sometimes the other noises that accompany them in the background. I like to imagine the situation and person’s story. Wondering what they did before or after the phone call. 

Here are three examples:

MESSAGE

“Guys, just please, for one minute….HI! Hello, my name is Mary Anne, I’m calling about the one day memoir writing class. I was wondering if I already have a story could I bring that to class to work on? Because I already have a story from my life that I would like to work on. If you can give me a call at ——-  I’d appreciate it….Can’t I make a phone call without you two yell-…”

***

Her pleasant phone voice instantly turns into stern and incredulous, “Can’t I make a phone call without you two yelling all the time?!” Emily, 5 and Jake, 7. “I mean JESUS I just needed to make one fucking phone call!” She sank down on the cheap kitchen chair and put her hands over her face so all you could see was her loosely tied hair and her hands. Her kids looked at her with locked, still eyes.

Emily didn’t know what to say to her mom was always mad since she left Daddy John and the rest of the church. She didn’t seem to be happy and she cried a lot. Jake felt bad. He was just having so much fun playing with his sister that he forgot mom was on the phone. He was having problems learning how to manage his new found freedom. Nothing outside was a nice as the compound was but everything inside felt somehow good.

Mary Anne popped her head up and stretched her hands towards her kids, pulling them in like a magnet. She hugged them, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you. Mommy just has one day to get all the things she wants done and gets flustered but it isn’t your fault,” She squeezed tighter, “how about this; lets go get some pizza and play some games. Would you like that?” The kids heads bobble uncontrollably and they run off towards their coats. 

The mom looks at them as they get ready to go out. It’s so hard. The though of going back was still tempting but she knows she did the right thing. And if she can just get her story out, she knows she can make it. And maybe save the others in the process. 

***

MESSAGE

“Hi, I’m outside the buildin. I’m outside for the one day Poe-try class and NOBADY is here. I’m at the address I wrote down so…wats the deal 347——.”

***

He shook his head and rechecked the paper with the address on it. He then looked through his email at the registration email. He indeed did write down the wrong address. FAK! Nothing good ever happens when he comes to the city. This is the stupidest thing ever. He wondered how did he ended up in here. But that night easily came back into play. As it did very day since it happened. 

Her heels clicked with force as she walked away. 

“Common babe, just STAP! STAP FORA SECOND. Just let me s’plain….I thought you said you wanted ta do somethin simple and not flashy.” 

She turned around and threw a flimsy plastic bag at him. 

“Ah candy ba, Edwin? Valentine’s Day and you give me a shittin candy ba and take me to ah dina?!” 

“You said simple. I was tryin ta be simple. See I was tryin ta show you I was listenin to you!” 

“I said simple and elegant but not expensive. You neva listen ta me. You just hear what you wana an’ neva  putin the effort ta try and show me that I mean somethin to ya.” 

“YES I DO” 

“Oh yeah, when’s the last time you wrote me a card a sumptin…Neva. You neva take the extra effert to show me you care. And I’m done with it. And I’m done with you.” 

Her turn away punctuated that last statement. Edwin was beside himself. Where did he go wrong? The Herseys and Diner was suppose to be charming. And who the hell was she to say he didn’t write cards. He’d written plenty of cards. Right? He was having a hard time thinking of one. Ugh, damnit! Why does she have to make life so difficult? She wasn’t even worth the effort. What did she ever do for him? Forget her. She can’t even cook that good. Except that beef stroganoff. That was good. She always made it on Thursdays when the Flyers were playing because it was her favorite team too. Whatever, at least his pillows wouldn’t smell like girl shampoo anymore. And now he didn’t have to play “Would You Rather.” What a dumb game…although it was funny at times. And he did like the way she laughed. She’d hug him when she laugh and it was so warm. 

The February chill blew up the wind and cued him to start walking home.

She did turn around and say those things to him so it wasn’t  OVER over but he knew he was gonna have to do some work, something more than a card and something that showed he went to great lengths to show her how much he loved her….

***

MESSAGE

“Hi, I took the Blog Writing class there last year and it was so good SO GOOD that I’m wondering if you are going to have a Level II anytime soon. And if it isn’t soon can I get a private with someone? Thanks,

 Jane….OH and my number is 202——-.

***

Jane couldn’t believe it! She couldn’t believe it! She was SO FRIGGIN pumped! She had to read the letter again. 

Dear Mommy One Day At A Time,

        We’ve been following your blog for a long time and see that you have a had an influx of followers with good feedback for the past year. We here at Diapers-R-Us are constantly looking to partner with online mom communities that are useful for new parents and experienced parents alike. We’d love to see you continue to produce content and be a voice for moms but know that this takes time and money. For that reason, we are interested in sponsoring your blog. In exchange, we will advertise on your site and occasionally send you free products to review from our company. You can simply post the reviews of the products you like on your site. Please let us know if this is something you might be interested in as we are interested in working with you.

Sincerely,

Diane

Founder & CEO 

DiapersRUs.

YES! This is it! Jane never in her wildest dreams thought that anyone but her mom and bestie would read her blog. It was after all just a diary more than  anything else. With Derek gone for duty, she needed something to keep her busy that wasn’t tending to the kids. But that was all she knew and she couldn’t leave home. Now she had a sponsor. She knew that course was worth it!  She couldn’t wait for the next Skype session with Derek to tell him the great news. But now the pressure was on. How could she take this to the next level. Reviewing products? She kind of did that with some things but not formally. Not for a real live sponsor. She couldn’t mess this up, who knows where this could lead? Maybe she could buy a new computer…or Landrover….or both! But first things were first. Call the school again. It had been 10 minutes, maybe they didn’t get the message. But it was 10pm. Maybe they were closed. Maybe she should reply to Diane. No, school first then Diane. 

***

Learning From The Master

Everyone at Gotham Writers has spoken to Tony. He calls in every so often to chat about writing. You won’t find a more genuine soul, especially not on a customer service line. He knows us all by name and we all have stories about our Tony conversations. Each conversation is 100% unique, like a snowflake.

I went my initial two months at Gotham without having the privilege of talking to Tony, but when it finally came, I knew what was happening. Half way into his speech of the history of Mexican bandits and how it correlated to his life, I knew who I was talking to. I didn’t need an introduction. This was the fabled Tony in all of his glory.

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Tony is a writer. And he is a dedicated writer who wants to take every class that Gotham has to offer. He has ideas and characters that deserve their own story. But Tony, like every other writer out there, has trouble sometimes deciding where to go with those stories. When that happens, he calls us.

Sometimes you just need to let your thoughts out to make sense of them. If calling us helps Tony sort out what he is trying to write and gets him into the writing process than I am happy to do my part. You don’t even have to say much when he calls. You just have to listen. And it’s well worth it. Without a doubt.

We can all learn something from Tony. He isn’t afraid to dial Gotham’s customer service and speak to whoever answers the phone about the current state he is in with his writing. It’s not the easiest of tasks. It’s daunting, really. I’d never be able to muster the gumption to do it.

I have always hesitated to talk to other people about my writing, mainly when I’m stuck or struggling. It’s a confidence thing. Sometimes I just don’t have faith in my own writing. But every writer is that way. Only we don’t all openly admit it like Tony does. Rather than bury it and wait out the storm and hope it solves itself, he talks to someone about it. Anyone. A stranger on a phone a thousand miles away will do.

That isn’t exactly what the Gotham customer service line is for, but hey, we’re all writers here. Maybe one day I’ll call Tony and tell him about my writing problems.

! vs . and the Future.

This past week I was texting with a friend, trying to find a time that we could get together and hang out. I hadn’t seen her in a minute. I was met with very short responses and a lot of….periods. And my heart starts to race.

Periods these days seem to be evil queens of punctuation. Bold statements in and of themselves, signifying displeasure, indifference, and they are torturous to the receivers. And scream unspoken (or written) intention.

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As I feared, the conversation did not end well. The issue has since been resolved and we are back to an exclamatory level. But this fear has translated into any written correspondence I have. In my emails to customers here, I start most off with a

“Thanks for reaching out! Yes, we do offer 6 week classes here…”

Because I’m scared if I write anything without the exclamation it will be taken the wrong way. I mean look at the difference.

“Thanks for reaching out. Yes, we do offer 6 week classes here…

See how much of a bitch that second person responding is? She is bothered by you. And thinks less of you. At least thats what I’m afraid you’re going to think. So I add ! And at the same time, I’m aware that ! might make me look childish and dumb. After all,

Cut out all these exclamation points…An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald
But these days I’ve been conditioned to think that exclamations signify that a good mood. periods tell you STAY AWAY. Even if there is a bit of bad news, I feel the need to follow a . up with a 😦 to let you know I’m not delivering this bad news with malice, I too am sad that we can’t let you into a class that is three weeks in. It must come from the social need to be pleasant. You never know who you are talking to, after all. Perhaps because for as much as I email, text do seem to be the way I communicate most and they are made for quick and pleasant exchanges (I wish someone would tell my friend that).
There is a theory in a book entitled SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, that emails are so emotionless naturally that exclamations are the quickest way to spruce them up! 
….Yeah, thats exactly what I’m doing, just sprucing it up for you! But what if ! is not enough. After all, someone did invent emoticons. I use to dream of writing beautifully. Long structured ways to convey exactly what my heart wishes to express. Now I just want to agree with your political thoughts in the shortest way possible. 
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So maybe I will pull back a little bit. I’ll give you, reader the benefit of the doubt that you know my intentions are in the right place without the use of so many ! or 🙂 And if I get complaints that my correspondence is short or rude then I’ll know that the truth is what I think it is. That we are heading towards a new way of communication. Of !s and 😻s. And I will embrace it. And capitalize on it by adding and teaching a new class here in Gotham entitled:

✏️📓📝🙅🏻🙅🏻!!!💻💻🤗🤗🙋🏽🙋🏽!!! 101

Pretty Things

Finding the validation you need about something can be difficult. It’s tough to imagine that anyone could ever tell you exactly what it is you need to hear at a given moment without having to tell them to say it. Life would move much smoother if that were the case. But life doesn’t like smooth.

This past Wednesday, it was my turn to post a story on my Fiction 2 online Gotham class’ page to be workshopped. I chose a story that I’ve been working on for months now that has been through about 6 or 7 different rewrites. It’s an ambitious 15-page piece: it’s told in the 2nd person POV, it changes from past to present tense, it takes place over 10 years, and it deals with sex, addiction, infidelity, suicide and depression. It’s the story that makes me cringe the most when I feel brave enough to reread my work. It’s also one of the stories that I’m using as a part of my manuscript for grad school applications and I’ve felt uneasy about it ever since the first draft.

I usually know when I have something.

No matter how bad the first few drafts are, I’m usually able to tell when something is working. When there’s a spark in its core. Sometimes, it just takes a lot of digging to get it out and let it breathe. And that isn’t really the hard part for me—it’s getting pretty things to surround it with. I’m good at finding pretty things but not so good at making anything out them.

After posting it online for my class and instructor to read, I was sure that I was going to get it torn apart. No one likes the 2nd person. It can be accusatory, demanding, and overall repelling. You did this. You said this. You broke this. You hurt her. It’s difficult enough to enjoy when it’s done well and I’m not confident about any of my writing being done well, even in a more conventional 1st or 3rd person POV.

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Junot Diaz: a man who is much better at writing in the 2nd person than I am.

So it caught me off-balance when a classmate emailed me the morning after I posted my story to tell me how much she loved it.

“Stupendously wonderful.”

“You’re reaching Philip Roth status with your romantic angst here.”

“It’s there. You have it.”

You know, good stuff.

I have a difficult time accepting praise because I rarely feel deserving of it, especially when it comes to my writing, but this email couldn’t have come at a better time.

MFA programs are competitive. A lot of programs get upwards of 600-800 applicants and only accept 10-20 at the most. Some that I’ve applied to only take 5 or 6. Basically the odds aren’t great. At all. And I’ve been needing some validation on my work.

I’ve needed to feel like maybe there’s a shot for me.

And even though my classmate said some lovely things, she still isn’t in charge of grad school admissions at the programs I’ve applied to. She’s still not a staff member at the literary mags I’ve submitted to.

But, it’s still nice to receive some praise. I don’t necessarily feel like I have anymore of a shot now to be the 1 of the few accepted just because of her email, but I feel a little better. Like maybe I was right about the spark.

Maybe I made something good out of the pretty things this time.

And for right now, that’s enough.

The Great Lemon Coaster (or, weird metaphors from Sye)

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Ack! The hardships,  they burrrrn!

When it comes to New Years, of course we all want them to start off ‘fresh’. But I’ve learned in these first few weeks, unfortunately, that not all fresh produce is welcome…

 

Cue the lemons.

One after another life throws them–from the trees, the neighborhood fruit carts, the Brooklyn rooftop gardens–until you’re absolutely drowning in the clean scented, canary flesh of unexpected problems.

I don’t know about you, but I can only make lemonade so fast, and the busier I get the more terrible it’ll come out. Though, make lemonade we must in the writer’s world. Even though I’m making amazing progress in understanding my TV pilot, gearing up to write my first treatment, and starting to write more consistently (in theory…), life outside of the Gotham classrooms is not always paved in progress.

Recently, I had a talk with a close friend and fellow creative trying to make it in this crazy world, and they gave me some great advice empathetic reasoning.

It’s a roller coaster until you finally reach your aspiration. The path is less “normal”, less “practical”.

And how!

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Roller coasters are the epitome of everything that terrifies me. They’re loud. They’re fast. They impair your senses, take you by surprise, and flip you upside down. Plus, if you’re not the greatest daredevil (i.e. Me), they generally expose and embarrass you once people catch a glance at your hysterically screaming, ugly crying mug.

The first time I ever went on a roller coaster was totally by accident.

I was 18, on my Senior Trip to Dorney Park. After my friends and I had frolicked through the park, eating junk food and palling around with Snoopy, we got on line for what we thought was an edgy theater show. Soon we began to hear the faint sounds of screaming… The screaming grew louder and louder…still, everything seemed fine? Eventually one of us (not me) worked up the teenage courage to ask a random guy what the heck we were–now trapped–in line for. Turns out it was a massive indoor roller coaster.

“F********************k”. 

We were all frightened little girls. But it was too late to turn back; the line behind us was thrice as long as the death train in front of us. Anxiety took all the way over.

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There we were, arguing about the proper way to escape the line, when our turn pounced upon us. Immediately, one of my friends asked, “Which way is the exit?” The attendant pointed judgmentally to the right, and she was off. The rest of us stood there dumbfounded and ditched, as the surge of the line drew us forward toward the waiting cars.

The following description of events is a direct metaphor for the creative  journey I find myself in presently: 

Without much forethought, I gathered all my courage and stepped into the coster. Unlike the dignified silence of an action hero who stoically faces her fear, this moment was filled with my incessant, stress-ridden, self-encouraging blather.

“I can do this. We can do this. What’s so scary about roller coasters anyway? I’m brave. I don’t care that it’s dark. I’m totally ready . This seat belt isn’t very tight. I’m sure it’s fine. Are they gonna count down or something? I am definitely not going to throw up. Does anyone else feel like they might throw up? This is all gonna work out, I’m sure of it–”

WHOOSH!!!

I was torpedoed into a dark, alien-themed, twisty-turny ride during which I mostly screamed or impulse talked. Much like my day-to-day life, the ride was filled with unexpected twists and turns that I weathered despite the fear of the unknown.

By the end of it, I felt energized and proud. Sure it was scary, but it was also exhilarating. I’d found the moments to live for in the ordeal: the unexpected corkscrew,  the light at the end of a tunnel, a free bottle of wine from the Gotham office. During the smooth patches I was even stable enough to provide positive reflective commentary (“See? This isn’t so BAAAAAAAAAAAAADDD!!!!”)

Is the writer’s life not just that? Being thrown headfirst into this crazy ride full of doubt and determination, confusion and courage?

Sure life throws you a pile of lemons every once and a while, but who’s to say you can’t take one from the bottom and ride the avalanche til you get by?

No one, that’s who!

Alright that’s enough …

-Sye

 

 

What The Hell Is A Jellicle Cat?

I’ve never had any real desire to see the musical Cats. But something about entering ticket lotteries is fun. My girlfriend and I enter every ticket lottery every chance we get and we never win anything. It’s just a habit at this point.

But last Monday we won the lottery to see Cats. Unfortunately, we were both sick and couldn’t go. Why did we enter then, you might ask? Like I said, we had no intention of winning.

This past Sunday we won the lottery to see Cats again, so we just accepted that God really wanted us to see this show and we went. I’ve seen a good share of Broadways shows and never felt the urge to write a review. But Cats needs a review.

I’m writing this all, not for the sake of other people reading it, but for my own sake, to try to see what I took out of Cats, aside from a souvenir, $11 dollar cup that still smells like Alleycat Amber Ale. I have not looked up any cats’ name’s for spelling, I’m going to wing it, for entertainment’s sake. And I haven’t googled any lyrics or plot points (spoiler, there weren’t many). This is all from my memory of the show.

In the opening act, they sing their token song, Jellicle Cats. It’s catchy, but it makes no sense, and I’m a cat owner. I thought it would be like, an inside joke for cat owners. It’s not. What the hell is a Jellicle Cat?

keanu

As if reading my mind, they stopped the number and one cat steps out and says “what’s that, a man out there doesn’t know what a jellicle cat is?”

I thought about raising my hand. I was that man.

“Well let me tell you!” he said. Now we’re getting somewhere, chorus cat!

And then they broke into the chorus “jellicle stands for jellicle cats.”

That solves nothing.

Anyway, back to the story, which I’m still looking for, sitting here writing an impromptu review three days later.

It’s pretty much just a meet and greet. You’ll meet all kinds of cats and probably only remember four or five of their names.

It starts with the lazy cat who lives in the trunk of a car and can’t catch mice, yet she tap dances like Bing Crosby.

Then there is the gluttonous cat, who eats and eats and eats and walks off the stage and is never seen again.

Then every cat stops and awaits the coming of the feline Messiah, Deuteronomy (like the book of the Bible), who looks like the Wild Thing from Where The Wild Things Are. Apparently he calls a ball (maybe that’s why everyone is dancing) for the cats to judge what cat needs to be reborn (is that a plot I’m detecting?). I guess all these cats we’ve been meeting are auditioning to be “reborn”. Pretty twisted if you think about it.

After that casual plot introduction midway into the play, we get back to meeting more cats that you’ll probably forget about. There’s the old, former fashion model cat who I think was named Grisabella. She seems nice but everyone indiscriminately hates her and hisses at her and she’s sad about it.

There’s the cat who wears a vest, drinks tea (so he claims, I never saw any tea) and lives on a train. He seemed like a swell dude. Really polite.

There’s the devious duo of Rumpleteaser and Mungo Jerry, who I think steal swag, given the bags they carried labeled “swag”.

cats

There is the bedazzled cat (Rumtum Tugger?) that looks like David Bowie. Turns out that, despite his popularity among the feline community, he’s just the hype man for the wonderful Mr. Mistophelees, who, by the way, is pretty damn wonderful. I think, as I write, he is still pirouetting in his vest that was more lit up than my entire array of Christmas decorations this year. Dude was legit.

Then there is the cat Asparagus, who is known as Gus. He’s an actor. And he’s old. Probably needs to be reborn and looked to be the early favorite. Plus everyone likes him despite snidely making fun of him behind his back.

There’s Mycavity, a real shady dude. But the ladies love him and the dudes run away. He breaks stuff and peaces out.

And look, Grisabella came back and everyone still hates her. But teddy bear Deuteronomy is like, “back off, she gets reborn,” and then everyone loves her. But I’m not sure if she is really reborn of if her levitating into the rafters was just a pleasant way of showing her dying.

Overall, it was quite the spectacle. The choreography was amazing, the singing was great and Mistophelees’s get-up was pretty snazzy. I enjoyed meeting all of these cats and was horribly disappointed when I returned home to my cats and discovered that they don’t tap dance, sing, or even wear vests. They do break stuff and disappear though, so I guess I own a Mycavity.

And what did I learn? Well, I learned that the world names their cats wrong. I learned that Asparagus is as much a name as it is a vegetable. I learned that cats are Buddhist and get reincarnated as kittens (though the reincarnation never happened, so maybe they are all misguided). But I sure as hell did not learn what a Jellicle Cat is.