Tag Archives: things that suck

in which I put my foot in my mouth

I’ve had a week of saying stupid things.

Over the last seven days, with staggering consistency and completely without meaning to, I have put my foot in my mouth. Over. And over. And over again. I’ve never had a week of such a steady stream of utter stupidity. Maybe it’s something in the air. Maybe the snow is finally getting to me. Maybe all that Diet Coke has finally found its way to my brain and is slowly rotting it, starting with the filter part.

An example, you say? Alright, here’s a dramatic recreation of a conversation I had with my boss a few days ago:

Boss: So I need you to calculate some percentages for me.
Mackenzi: Oh, I don’t understand how to do percentages.
*boss looks at me* *Mackenzi panics*
Mackenzi: I mean, I just really don’t understand what percentages are.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: My dad tried to teach me when I was little and I think he thought I wasn’t trying but actually I was just too stupid.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: When I was a kid, my mom used to take me shopping and she wouldn’t buy things for me unless I could tell her what the sale price was with the percentage off. So I just have a lot of anxiety attached to percentages.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: Percentages freak me out.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: I’m stupid and can’t do math!
Boss: …..okay, well maybe run those numbers by me before you send them out to our customers.
Mackenzi: Hold on, let me shove my foot a little further into my mouth.

Another example, you say? Sure thing.

The other night I was at a party talking to a lovely independent bookseller and this happened:

Lovely Independent Bookseller: So you have a book coming out! That’s so exciting! Is it going to be one book or two?
Mackenzi: It’s two. I’m writing the second one right now.
LIB: How cool!
Mackenzi: It’s actually really hard. It’s stressing me out.
LIB: But it’s so cool you get to write another book.
Mackenzi: Yeah, but it’s also sort of a curse.
LIB: *sarcastically* Boy, what a problem for you.
Mackenzi: *starting to panic* I mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about it.
LIB: That’s exactly what it sounds like.
Mackenzi: ….I’ll just leave you alone forever now.

I was just trying to make conversation about the difficulties of the creative process, and instead I ended up looking like an ungrateful jerk. *facepalm*

The story of this entire week for me has been saying things I don’t mean, or things that make me look like an idiot, or things that make me look like an insensitive jerk. Perhaps someone should put me in lock down this week for the protection of those around me. And also a little bit for my own.

I don’t know why I’m blogging about this. With my track record, this will probably offend somebody.

It’s hard to say the right thing all the time. It’s hard to say the right thing even half the time. That’s I guess what I want to say.

I’m having lunch with my editor tomorrow—it’s the first time we’ll be meeting in person—and let’s hope this streak doesn’t continue. When I was stressing to the MT about the very real possibility of saying something stupid to her, she offered the sound advice: “Just don’t lead with the thing about percentages.”

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The Road Thus Far: Champagne Problems

I haven’t blogged in a while, and I’m doing it now because a) I am trapped inside by a post apocalyptic snowstorm, and b) I have a novel I should be writing but am stuck on.

So it has now been eight months since I signed my book deal for my debut novel. In that time, I have learned a lot. Mostly that if I can worry about it, I will. I worry about everything associated with publishing, usually irrationally and in maddening excess.

That has been the biggest lesson of debuting so far: You will worry about everything.

You will worry about plot choices you made. You will worry about setting choices you made. You will worry about the words you used in describing these plot and setting choices. You will worry about how you spelled your characters’ names. You will worry that your book isn’t getting enough marketing attention. You’ll worry your book is getting too much. You’ll worry no one will read it. You’ll worry everyone will. Everything that once made sense when it was just you and your manuscript on your own will be thrown into sharp relief and called into question. You will worry this is a fluke and you will never sell another novel. You will worry your book is actually terrible and everyone who has read it and told you they loved it was on drugs. You will worry about the cruel and profanity-laden reviews people will leave for you on Goodreads. You will worry about the equally cruel but less profanity laden reviews you will get in review journals.

You will worry about things you did not know it was possible to worry about. You will worry about everything

And it will probably drive you crazy.

These, my friends, are what I now call champagne problems.

The other week, I was having lunch/writing date with two author friends of mine. We were talking about the sort of things authors talk about when they get together—advances, marketing, covers, editors. Or rather, what happens when your advance is smaller than you expected, when you don’t get the marketing plan you wanted, when your cover isn’t good, when your editor just stops responding.

And then one of them—much smarter than me—said, “Aren’t these lucky problems to have?”

Champagne problems. Luxurious and lucky problems that come with having amazing things happen to you.

But you, as the debut author, will still worry irrationally and constantly about them. And that’s sort of weird gift in a way too, because it means this matters to you. This matters a lot. And it is a champagne problem indeed to have something that matters enough to worry that much1.

  1. Maybe I am writing things blog post to you, the audience, or maybe I am writing a weird letter to self. Who knows?
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in which Marx abandons me

It is with a heavy heart that I report my long-time co-conspirator and short-time roommate, known affectionately here on the blog as Marx, has decided that, much like the pioneers of old, there is a better life for her out west. And so, Oregon Trail style, she put her shoulder to the wheel, left home and happiness behind, and began her trek to the other side of the country, where she will undoubtedly find herself surrounded by big skies and open prairie and space and fresh air1.

What I’m saying is that MARX MOVED AWAY. SHE LEFT ME–NAY, ABANDONED ME2. The selfish little twerp.

I am not handling it super well.

the Ms

I selected this picture because it was taken on one of Marx and my first real friend outings outside of school. To a Halloween party where we were both intensely uncomfortable, but not good enough friends to yet tell each other so.

 

Marx was one of the first real friends I made in Boston and has remained one of the most consistent. She has been a foundational column of my life for the past three years. Our hijinks are the stuff of legends. From our shared classroom space and love of children’s literature to our ill-fated trip to Ikea to the time we drove across the city with a mattress loosely bungee corded to the top of her car to the time I took her to see her first professional play without knowing it3 to the time we were stuck in a blizzard for five hours to the time she accompanied me to the opening day of I, Frankenstein and we spent the whole movie being hooligans to the time we lost hours aggressively googling Regency embalming4 and grave robbing for my writing research to the time we went to freaking Switzerland, Marx has been one of those friends for me. The sort who knows everything about you and still likes you. The sort who makes you a better person when you’re around them.

I am trying to be mature about her leaving. I am trying to be happy for her. I am trying not to have all the abandonment issues.

issuesIt is really hard.

I admit it—when I found out Marx was moving, there was some angry crying while sitting in the middle of the floor like a two year old, some angsty music listening and depression, some silent treatment, some passive-aggressiveness, some bargaining and pleading5 and attempts at sabotage. My whole attitude to her leaving can be summed up in a scream-howl of “HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME!?”

But yesterday she packed up her little car and started on her cross-country drive to her new home. Yep. She did it to me.

And I remain intensely unhappy about her leaving. Intensely.

2But Marx is happy. She is excited. She is going somewhere she wants to be going and doing things she loves. And I can’t fault her for what I always say is the number one thing I look for in friends—she’s actively in pursuit of what she wants. And if you know what you want then you go and you find it and you get it.

So here’s to Marx, currently somewhere between Toledo and Omaha, in a car with her whole life stuffed into its backseat. To all the great things we did, and the times we will still have, albeit it fewer and farther between. Here’s to her new life and her new dreams and her new home.

in switzerland

But no new friends. I’ve forbidden her from making any new friends.

 

  1. Let ‘em laugh in my face—I don’t care.
  2. And she took her turn-of-the-century steamer trunk with her!
  3. And it was CHEKOV. That was a terrible decision by me. Don’t introduce your friends to theater as an art form with CHEKOV.
  4. Spoiler alert—nobody was really embalming. They were just throwing people in the ground. Sometimes in coffins. Sometimes not. The more you know.
  5. With both Marx herself, and God to please let something terrible happen that would cause her to remain stuck in Boston, and our curmudgeonly downstairs neighbor to be the thing that kept her in Boston. None of it panned out.
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The Road Thus Far: Copyedits

I had grand blogging aspirations for the end of October. I was going to tell you all about Geneva, city of my heart, and about the Metropolitan Waterworks, my new favorite haunt in Boston, and maybe about how I helped pack five thousand books for the bookstore the other night.

But then copyedits happened. And that’s been my life instead.

What are copyedits, you ask1? Let me explain: After an author finishes with developmental edits2, your manuscript gets sent to someone who understands things authors often ignore, like grammar and sentence structure and where is the appropriate place to put a comma. Things that, it turns out, I know nothing about. Copyeditors also keep an eye out for things like inconsistencies in the stage business—two paragraphs ago you said this character had blue eyes and now they’re green, the wrench was on the table and now it’s in his hand—and some light fact checking—you realize this historical event actually took place two years after you said it did? Things like that. The copy editor also helps catch the annoying typos you didn’t notice before, thank goodness. Like when my computer decided when I typed Lord Byron, what I actually meant was Lord Bryan. Ah, Lord Bryan, my favorite of all the Romantic poets.

Then I as the author have to go through the manuscripts and address all the copy editor’s queries before sending it back to my editor.

I’ve learned a lot from copyedits3, such as the difference between further and farther, backwards and backward. Also there’s such a thing as a copulative verb4. And birthdays make calculating age somehow infinitely more complicated. And all right and alright are not the same.

Clearly, I know nothing.

Copyedits have put a weird dent in my confidence. When I turned in my developmental edits, I was feeling pretty solid, but I’m starting to get a little panicked about the fact that this book is about to become a book. Copyedits are the first step for me that has really carried this process beyond what I’ve done before I had a book deal. I keep thinking of the part in How I Met Your Mother where Barney is sick and Robin is taking care of him. Barney, in a fit of petulant Barney-ness, shouts at Robin, “I hate you!” At which point she goes to leave, having had enough, and he immediately whimpers, “Don’t leave me.”

gif 1gif 2In this scenario, I am petulant Barney, and my manuscript is long-suffering Robin.

I’ve been doing editorial work on this book pretty much constantly for a year and a half, and by now, I’ve read it so many times that I can’t see it as a whole anymore—it’s all fragments and pieces, draft upon draft overlaid on top of each other5, and I can’t make all those pieces fit together into a coherent story anymore. I can’t decide if that’s because it actually doesn’t make sense, or if it’s because anything will start to sound like nonsense after you read it a billion and a half times.

bowlSo part of me wants to throw this manuscript back at my publisher and shout, “Here just take it I never want to see it again!” but the other half of me wants to cling to it with my Gollum arms and never let it out into the world.

I hate you, don’t leave me. That pretty much sums up my experience with copyedits.

And now, I’m back to work. Gonna read this book again. One. More. Time.

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  1. My mom and I were laughing the other day about how this time last year, not a single one of us knew what copyedits were. Now, with me writing this book thing and my mom working at a children’s magazine, suddenly it’s a household word. The times, they are a changing.
  2. These include the sort of things you think of when you think of editing a book—adjusting plot points, rewriting scenes, things like that.
  3. Though knowing me, I will probably not incorporate any of that into my writing because grammar is hard, yo.
  4. Not as sexy as it sounds.
  5. I keep working myself up into a frenzy over things I changed months ago. Clearly I’m losing my mind. Send help.
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in which people dislike me

Once upon a time in high school, I was sitting in the study room during my lunch period when a classmate walked up to me, looked me straight in the eyes, and with no prelude or explanation simply said, “I don’t like you.”

And then he walked away.

I was stunned. I just sat there for a minute. By the time I thought up a witty retort, he was gone. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but it really did. It still bothers me to the point that I could tell you exactly what I was wearing and where I was sitting when it happened–it is that burned in my memory. I’ll never forget this boy looking me straight in the eyes and saying, “I don’t like you.”

Because as far as I knew, I had never done anything to merit his dislike. This classmate and I weren’t close–I hardly knew him aside from the comments he made in class and sometimes ending up in the same room due to shared social circles. I couldn’t think of a single interaction we’d had just the two of us or a thing I’d done that would make him feel both a strong dislike for me and the need to tell me so. That, I realize now, is what bothered me the most about it. That I hadn’t done anything to him, meaning there was something about me on a fundamental level, something about just the way I was, that he did not like, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me.

Recently I’ve been dealing with someone who, similar to this young man from high school, does not like me for no apparent reason. On a rational level, I understand that this is not something I can control and it should not bother me and there’s no way everyone you  meet is going to like you. But lately it’s been eating me up to think that there’s someone who I have never in my knowledge wronged, but who dislikes the things about me that make me me, the sort of things I can’t change. Maybe it’s the sound of my voice. Maybe it’s how I use my hands when I talk. Maybe it’s the combination of my voice and my hand-talking or the way I sometimes zone out in the middle of a conversation. But whatever it is, it’s not something I can change, it’s just me. And that bothers me.

Since I am a product of academia, I usually like to have some sort of clear concise conclusion to end my blog posts on, where I wrap up everything I’ve said in one sometimes cliched but usually relevant statement. Today I don’t really have that.

All I know is that sometimes people just don’t like you, and that sucks.

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in which I have bookseller adventures

As you may or may not know, I am currently funding my extravagant Bostonian lifestyle by working as a bookseller in the children’s room of the Harvard Coop Bookstore. The Harvard Coop is, to use a technical industry term, a big-ass bookstore. It is four floors of books. Four grand, Harvardian floors of books, complete with a sweeping spiral staircase, shelf-lined galleries, and a well-read, articulate staff.

….so we’re basically just a glorified Barnes and Noble. But still. Harvard.

Now if you have never worked in a bookstore, particularly the children’s room of a bookstore, you may think that the job involves primarily handing out books to tiny people and their accompanying adults. You may think booksellers do little more than talk about the books they love to their similarly polite and well-read customers and then read covertly behind the counter while sipping tea and waiting for the next customer to chat them up about Tolstoy or the derivative nature of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

Oh contraire, my friends. Oh contraire.

Being a bookseller is hard. There is a lot of carrying books up and down those four sweeping staircases. There is a lot of fielding ridiculous questions and impossible requests1. There is a lot of talking to people who don’t know a darn thing about books (or in my case books for children), which is why they’re talking to me. There is a lot of putting things back where they belong because most patrons seem incapable of it. In the children’s room there is, on top of all that, clean up of snacks, reading at storytime2 and making really excellent crafts3 that the kids can then duplicate.

Today, the job also involved some light spelunking.

When I returned to the floor after lunch, I found the children’s room empty and the Boss behind the counter, grinning her most maniacal grin at me.

Boss: Why hello there4.
Me: …Hello?
Boss: Did you have a good lunch?
Me: I am very suspicious of this conversation.
Boss: So something happened while you were gone.
Me: Did it?
Boss: And now we have to fix it.
Me: So long as it does not involve me carrying the 160 copies of Panic by Lauren Oliver back down the stairs after already carrying them upstairs this morning5 then I am okay with just about anything.
Boss: I’m glad you said that.

So here’s what happened: while I was at lunch, the Boss made a classic rookie mistake. She gave the bathroom key to a small child and her nanny and told them to bring it back instead of walking them to the bathroom and unlocking it for them herself as she has told the rest of us time and time again we are supposed to do. It was a rather lazy and pathetic move on her part6. A few minutes later, the nanny returned rather sheepish and informed the Boss that while they were in the bathroom, the laws of physics had stopped, resulting in the key becoming nonsensically and impossibly wedged inside of the fold-out diaper changing table.

“No trouble,” thought the boss. “I got this.”

But she did not “got this.” Not even close. We discovered rather quickly that the key had fallen at such an angle that our adult-sized hands could not reach it7. It took a good half hour, a pipe cleaner, two straws, a dowel, a beehive of packing tape, and some very creative maneuvering before she and I working as a single until managed to chopstick that son of a bitch out from the interior of the diaper changing table and into our waiting palm. We both touched a fair amount of unmentionable things in the process, dug out some crayons that had also fallen victim to this strange black hole, and dropped enough McGyver references to last a lifetime.

But at last, with a small plop, the tiny silver key, now a bit tarnished and smelly, fell into the Boss’s hand. We cheered in unison. There might also have been some high fiving and victory dancing.

And then the Boss, still riding the high of successfully conquering the bathroom changing table, threw all our now soiled tools in the trash can and reflexively threw the newly-rescued key in after them. I let her fish it out of there.

We then returned to the desk and disinfected ourselves.

Friends, today was One of those Days. The sort of day where you find yourself stretched like a gymnast across a unisex bathroom while trying to prop the door open with your foot and simultaneously root around shoulder-deep in a diaper changing station with straws clutched like chopsticks fishing helplessly to get a key out from between the hinges of a collapsible diaper changing station, all the while cursing loudly and with great relish. It was One of those Days.

Being a bookseller is not a very glamours life. We’re not all the bespectacled, cardigan wearing do gooders you see in films8. So do me a favor–go thank your bookseller today.

Or bring them chocolate. I have it on good authority that booksellers love chocolate.

  1. Example of a real question I had: “I’m looking for a book. I don’t know the title but the cover has writing on it.”
  2. And doing the librarian hold until your arm starts to cramp.
  3. An example of one of my best, but ultimately rejected, ideas:IMG_0997
  4. She may have actually swiveled around in her chair while stroking a white cat and wearing an eye patch. Details blur together.
  5. True story.
  6. I can say this, because I know she is reading and because at the end of our harrowing adventure she said, “You should put this on your blog! But I don’t want to be named.” Careful what you wish for, Boss.
  7. And we both ended up with gouged knuckles to prove it.
  8. Though it should be noted that at this moment I am both bespectacled and cardiganed
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in which I say goodbye to January

THIS MONTH.

This stupid, schoolyard bully of a month keeps kicking me while I’m down.

And I am SICK OF IT.

I’m not frustrated anymore. I’m not sad anymore. I’m just ANGRY.

So this is me being a RAGE MONSTER and leading the villagers with torches and pitchforks and pails full of rocks in an angry mob against January.

Because January SUCKED. It really, really SUCKED.

In January’s defense, I sort of deserved it. December was essentially a perfect month. Even the things that went wrong didn’t go all that wrong. I had a perfect week in Boston with my sister1. Then I had two more perfect weeks with my family home in Salt Lake City. I had a good month at work with everyone being cheerful and Christmasy and lots of hand selling books I love to customers who were willing to take my word on everything. And I know you can’t have that many good days in a row without something inevitably falling apart at some point.

But then when things fell apart, they didn’t just fall. They collapsed. They imploded. January came in, as the poet hath wrote, like a wrecking ball.

And I am SICK OF IT. I am sick of getting up at six and getting home at eleven. I am sick of scheduling my days down to the minute and still running out of time. I am sick of my computer being broken, my cabinets falling off the walls, and the child in the upstairs apartment running laps at two in the morning. I am sick of falling behind and not being able to sleep and eating terribly and just being so generally unhappy all the time.

I am done with January.

Tomorrow is February. Tomorrow I’m starting over. I’m putting January at my back and kicking out the bad. I made it through January2, and things can only get better from here.

 

  1. I cannot emphasize how perfect this week was. Perhaps this picture of the MT blissfully devouring a canoli will give you some idea: Image
  2. Which I frankly deserve some sort of medal for.
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in which I learn storytelling lessons from iFrankenstein

I am, by principle, two things:

  1. Extremely selective about the movies I go see.
  2. Extremely obsessed with Frankenstein.

These two principles were in direct opposition last night when Marx and I headed to the Fenway cinema for the Friday night showing of iFrankenstein. Oh, you haven’t heard of iFrankenstein? That might be because it’s actually called, “I, Frankenstein” but come on.

So iFrankenstein. If you aren’t familiar with it, please take a second to acquaint yourself with the trailer.

So that’s iFrankenstein. You can probably get a good idea of its quality just based on those winning two minutes and thirty-one seconds. If that didn’t convince you, know that the film has, as the MT gleefully pointed out to me, a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the new Smurfs movie had a higher rating than that.

Watching that trailer, every instinct in me screamed to stay away.

But the smaller, yet louder part of my brain screamed “BUT FRANKENSTEIN!”

So my patient and long-suffering friend Marx let me drag her to iFrankenstein last night.

Image

And friends, it was bad. Horrifically bad. Monstrous1. As gloriously appalling as I hoped it would be.

At first, Marx and I did a lot of giggling and being generally and unapologetically disruptive. But just before the climax, Marx and I both got bad movie fatigue, a common condition where a disaster of a film suddenly stops being so bad it’s funny and instead you start to feel like your brain is liquefying and sliding out through your ears. In order to distract myself from my steadily dropping IQ, I tried to think about what I, as an aspiring writer and storyteller, could learn from this Hindenburg-sized disaster that was iFrankenstein.

So here are a few storytelling lessons from iFrankenstein.

Taglines do not make good dialogue. I’m pretty sure this entire movie consisted of lines that were made to be said in a deep, low voice while in close up with an intense look on the actor’s2 face. Dialogue was not a high priority in this film. In fact, I think 90% of the script is in the trailer.

Follow your own rules. So for a reason never explained, Frankenstein’s monster, who this movie christens Adam Frankenstein3, is immortal4. Not just immortal. Indestructible. He falls off buildings. He gets thrown off bridges. He crashes through a square and onto a moving subway train. And he’s fine. Except then, every time the movie needed him to be weak or incapacitated, somebody would lightly shove him and he would collapse into a shaking, useless heap of a reanimated man. If you’re gonna make these nonsensical world building rules, you gots to follow them all the time, not just when it’s convenient.

Setting! It is important! Setting is probably my favorite aspect of any novel or movie. I’m a setting junkie. So iFrankenstein’s first setting issue was that I was totally uncertain what city this was set in. What city is this that has both a big-ass cathedral for the gargoyles to live in and a big-ass castle for the demons to live in, yet is huge enough that neither of those groups seem to be aware that the other’s big-ass structure exists. Then, there were these huge jumps in location. Such as at the end, when the Demons’s big-ass castle starts imploding for no apparent reason. Adam and Yvonne Strahovki’s characters are inside and both mostly passed out on the floor! Oh no! Then we get one shot of demon v. gargoyle fighting action. Then suddenly Adam and Yvonne are falling off the roof! No, not running up to the roof. Not running across the roof. Falling off the roof. Weren’t they just passed out on the laboratory floor? Yes6. Yes they were.

Never employ reoccurring phrases that can’t be said with a straight face. Props to Miranda Otto for repeatedly uttering the phrases “Gargoyle Queen” and “High Order of the Gargoyle” without cracking. Oh Miranda Otto. How far you’ve fallen since ripping off your helmet and crying “I am no man!” on the fields of Gondor.

Apply morals with a light hand. Was there a theme? No. Any sort of over-arching character arc5 or internal struggle for anyone? No. Even really a reason for Adam, the main character, to be in the movie? Nope. The whole movie was just a vehicle for exploding things7 and poor special effects in which men transformed into creatures that seemed a cross between the Skeksis in Dark Crystal and the cactus people in Doctor Who. And then every once in a while, you’d be hit with a speeding train of a moral. I think there was actually an audible thunk a few times. Adam can’t be destroyed by the demons because he has a soul after all!? Wow, blink and you’ll miss that life lesson!

Good adaptations walk a fine line. iFrankenstein begins with a summary of Frankenstein in its entirety. It lasts approximately thirty-eight seconds. And then the movie abandons its reported source material entirely. I’m convinced the writers have not actually read the book. Rather, they skimmed the SparkNotes. Friends, you gots to read more than the SparkNotes to write an adaptation. I’m a big fan of adaptations of classics or retellings, but there’s a fine line to walk. You can’t stick too close to the source material—there has to be something new to set your version apart. But you also can’t stray so far away that you lose your ties to what you’re adapting. If you could take the classic you’re retelling out of the story and have it remain virtually unaffected, you’re doing something wrong. So when your movie about Frankenstein’s monster is actually a movie about a war between Demons and Gargoyles…you’re doing something wrong.

Friends, this was such a horrifically terrible movie. So much cringe-worthy dialogue. So many random explosions. So much Aaron Eckhart doing his best Christian Bale Batman impression. It’s the sort of bad movie that gives bad movies a bad name.

And friends, I loved every second of it.

 

  1. See what I did there?
  2. Yes, Actor, because there were literally three women in this film, and they were all basically vehicles for tokenism. So glad Yvonne Strahovski (whose character name I can’t remember for the life of me) was there to be totally useless the whole movie except to ogle handsome monster with his shirt off and then be carried to safety by him. Goooood.
  3. ADAM. Adam Frankenstein. While I appreciated the fact that they were trying to do a Paradise Lost/Bible reference by calling him Adam, there is not a name in this world besides Victor that you can pair with Frankenstein and not have it sound moronic. Adam Frankenstein. Say it out loud a few times. Adam Frankenstein. Good grief. Why didn’t they just call him Dave Frankenstein?
  4. This is a terrible idea for so many reasons, the first of which is that it destroys almost all stakes for this character. Every time he’s in any danger, I thought, “No big deal. He’s immortal, so he’ll be fine.” I think the writers realized this halfway through, but instead of going back and rewriting things, they just decided to ignore it and keep trucking.
  5. So one of my favorite scenes in the movie was when Adam Frankenstein was walking through what I believe the cool kids are calling a disco tech. It’s full of loud music and dramatic lighting and skinny white people in metallic shirts sitting around drinking neon drinks. As Adam Frankenstein walks by, everyone looks up from their conversations and neon drinks to stare at him. Then, in one of his many nonsensical voice overs, Adam tells us something about how “People all stare at me and hate me because I am weird looking.” …uh, wrong. Friend, they are staring at you because you are super hot. I promise, those scars are only doing you favors.  You are literally the most attractive person in this film so the whole “people hate me because I’m ugly” thing really doesn’t hold up.
  6. There were also a few points where the characters ended up in locations with no explanation as to what that place was or why there were there. Such as when Yvonne and Adam have a scene in this impossibly dingy apartment that happens to have a fully-stocked medicine cabinet so that Yvonne can stitch up Adam’s wounds. So whose apartment is this? If it’s Yvonne’s, she needs to talk to her boss about what he’s paying her as one of the top electrophysicists in the country. If it’s Adam’s, why does he go back there looking for her later? Where are we!?
  7.  Pretty sure no one ever used a door in this movie. They all had to jump through windows or smash through walls. Or, in one nonsensical case, have a conversation through a waterfall in a train station. Also, Frankenstein’s weapon of choice is Frankensticks. You can’t make this stuff up.
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in which a kitchen cabinet takes its own life

Last night, one of our kitchen cabinets decided it was not long for this world and threw itself to its death.

Yes that’s right. Our kitchen cabinet five feet off the ground filled with all the plates, bowls, and Tupperware three poverty-stricken young people had in the world, spontaneously decided to detach itself from the wall. Fortunately, its fall was broken by my roommate’s boyfriend1.

The plates, bowls, and a sizable Tupperware full of flour cascaded to the floor in a slow-motion waterfall of glass and ceramic. So many casualties, strewn across the kitchen floor. It looked like the after picture of a natural disaster area.

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I was not home at the time the collapse occurred. I got a confusing text from my roommate that started, “Everything’s fine.” Which usually means something is very wrong.

“Everything’s fine,” she texted me. “Except one of the cabinets fell out of the wall and into my boyfriend.”

It was the icing on the cake of an already stressful evening.

A repairman2 came by today and fixed it, so the cabinet is once again suspended where it should be. I still have a lot of lingering anxiety that it’s going to pitch forward again3, especially since I’m the only one at the apartment all weekend and this time it might be me the cabinet breaks its fall on.

I’m not sure what it is exactly that makes kitchen cabinets decide to throw themselves to their death at seven pm on a Wednesday night. But take this as a public service announcement, and a warning.

It happens.

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  1. Oh, don’t worry, he’s fine.
  2. Named Emerson, which feels very Boston appropriate.
  3. And take our surviving dishes with it.
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in which I start the next novel

Kids, this week was a doozy.

Coming back from a vacation is always rough, and I recognize that the first week of a new schedule is always jarring. But this particular first week raised a particular variety of hell that I was not prepared for.

First of all, I started a new job in addition to my current one. Which is awesome, but also far more work far faster than I expected. Then things at the first job were a bit mad. I also started in on the most demanding class of my academic career. I also took on some freelance jobs unexpectedly. Throw on top of that an MFA reading, two theatrical excursions, and an unexpected financial hiccup.

And then, on top of all that, I was supposed to start a novel1.

The project that has been lovingly named my post-modern revisionist steampunk Frankenstein novel is going on the shelf for a while until I’m far enough away from it that I can be objective about it and make it better. The project that has been lovingly named ANXIETY has been sent by my agent to editors around the country. And now I have a looming January 31 deadline for the first submission of my next novel.

I haven’t started.

I did, however, spend last night watching documentaries on tulips. Another hour or so putting books on hold at the library for research. And most of the afternoon making up names of fake Dutch towns. Basically, I was doing absolutely everything to avoid starting this novel.

So tonight I took a critical look at myself. Self, I said. Why are you so dutifully and emphatically avoiding starting this novel?

Starting anything is hard. Stories can exist in this sort of transitory, changeable state in your head, but putting them down on paper feels very finite, even though they’re still changeable. It’s another step towards becoming “real.”

The idea for this project began as a Wikipedia entry. Now, as a story is taking shape in my brain, it’s a story with a lot of tough questions I don’t feel qualified to answer. I love the YA community deeply, but I feel like sometimes they are just waiting to jump on anyone who doesn’t answer big questions in a way they like, and I’m stressed about being wrong. Even if I never publish this novel. Even if no one ever sees it besides me.

But then, as usual, the internet provided me with words of wisdom from Lemony Snicket:

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.”

So I’m starting my novel. I’m publishing this post, and then I’m starting writing.

Ready. Go.

 

  1. Yeah, supposed to. We’ll get to that.
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