Your Memory Is A Monster

Completely anonymous, letting the guilty live free and the interested live happily.

Some things I am tired of. August 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — memorymonster @ 11:17 pm

1. The notion that weird=art. (See: Bat for Lashes’s video “What’s A Girl To Do”)
2. Bands with great music, great lyrics, and singers whose voices ruin everything (See: The Fruit Bats, The Shins)
3. Putting things away
4. That commercial where someone sings, opera style, “I made this breakfast just the way I like it.” (Fairly certain it’s a Denny’s commercial)
5. Sour faces, rude people, some people’s pervasive fear of getting excited about anything.
6. Rude people who answer phones or provide customer service for a living. (I know your job sucks, but there’s no reason to spread it around)
7. Someone who either doesn’t understand or consider what I am saying, but instead chooses to plow on with their side of something, seemingly ignoring everything I have so thoughtfully explained. (I lost a movie I rented from Blockbuster Online. They sell this movie for $9. I reported it as lost, agreed to pay for it. They charged for $22. I call them, and explain to them very politely what happened. She says the standard fee for a lost DVD is $22. I go through the whole thing again. I understand that’s the standard fee, but they are charging me, someone who paid to rent the movie, $13 more than a person who doesn’t even have an account. She doesn’t understand, but doesn’t ask anymore questions. She just repeats that $22 is the standard fee. So I ask for a supervisor. While I am holding, I find the fucking movie. The supervisor tells me that she understands my issue–I didn’t even have to explain it–and they are refunding the entire $22. I never mentioned finding the movie).
8. The show Wipeout.
9. The AT&T guys installing the fiber optics in my building are all the time yelling “HOLD THAT DOOR” so they can get inside. How does a person get to be an adult without learning how to fucking say “please”?
10. Car alarms.

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Teenage devils. February 6, 2009

Should I be bothered that I am a better teacher than the people teaching me to teach?

Should I be bothered that the state requires me to learn how to teach, even though I’ve been teaching for 4 years?

Should I be bothered that, in order to sustain and fulfill my life, I’ve accrued $70k in debt?

To be honest, I am most bothered by the fact that I don’t even know how to get a job once I’m done learning to do a job I’ve been doing. Maybe, somehow, these classes will make me a better teacher. But how are they going to help me get a job?

One of the FAQs on the Ed department’s Teacher Certification program website is “Will the department help me find a job?” The answer is simply “No.”

Perhaps I should have a different department, eh?

Though my MA will earn me only a little more a year (when I do, eventually, find a job), I don’t think it was a wasted effort, or even wasted money. I think that those three years, that that writing, those experiences were intrinsically valuable. I don’t know that I would have named a price so high, but I would never say I’m not glad I did what I did.

I did wish this process was easier, though.

I want to teach English to high school students. I am ready to sell my soul to the teenage devil. I am ready to lay down my life for standardized tests. And I am willing to do it all for less money than I could make doing little more than checking my Facebook as an office worker. So why isn’t someone making it easier?

There is an abundance of well-educated, under-employed people in this county, this state, this city, this effin’ neighborhood, even. Why aren’t we being snatched up, courted, wooed and escorted into jobs that need filling, that change lives, that meet important needs?

Why do I have to fight to do the right thing?

I am still going to do it, and I won’t complain (more than this). But what about all the equally qualified folks who are up for the job but not this strenuous process?

 

Break. December 21, 2008

When I was a student, summer and winter breaks were great. I spent a week at home with my folks and the rest of the time at my house, with my friends, doing what college and grad students do. Mostly drinking, smoking cigarettes, playing cards while drinking and, on one occasion, convincing my friends not jump from rooftops to cure their boredom.

So what if, now that I am at least a partial grown-up, I don’t want to spend the entire time drinking? What if I want to watch good movies and read good books and spend time writing and creating things. What if I want to do all of the things I wished I had time for when I was teaching/grading, but never get around to?

My students’ papers needing to be graded always supersedes my desire to read a great book or write something I’ve had on my mind.

So here I am. The break I have been dreaming of for months. I have the pile of great books, the list of essay ideas.

So here’s the list of things I’ve done so far on my break:

1. Read three of the four Twilight books.

2. Made a photo collage for our family Christmas card.

3. Baked cookies.

4. Drank some beers. But it doesn’t count when I’m in my parents’ house. That’s not like partying. At least not a good kind.

5. Watched at least four episodes of NCIS.

6. Watched a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel.

7. Ordered useless shit on Amazon.

9. Made a Best of 2008 set of Mix CDs.

I am bored. But, simultaneously, want to do nothing that requires an abundance of upper-level thinking. Because my brain already knows what is coming next semester.

 

My memory is a monster. June 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized,Writing — memorymonster @ 9:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

A few days ago, I was sitting in the sun and I couldn’t stop writing. I had cigarettes and a bottle of water, two camping chairs (one to keep my feet out of the ant-filled grass) and pen and the book. I wasn’t really writing, I was writing out a plan for what I should write next, and I know this means that it only sort-of counts as writing. What I want to write next has a basic form, of course characters. But there is a lot missing, which is why I am afraid to start. I don’t need an ultimate destination of course, but I need a direction to point myself in.

People ask me a lot what I am reading. I am glad that they ask, that they know I read a lot, that they are interested in my choices, that my choices may have some bearing on their own. But all I read are students’ papers, stories and poems I am teaching, notes I’m preparing, words I have written. My weeks are so full that I don’t have the time to make for books. My weeks are so full that I keep my weekends almost completely empty.

I tell my students that the creative process is really the spontaneous combination of things scattered all over your brain. A guy you saw in a train station three weeks ago, a story your grandma told you about her life thirty years ago, the way that jerk broke your heart, the song you hear on the way to class, it just all sort of magnetizes and somehow comes together.

I can’t find those things in my brain; I can’t get them to fit together. They are there, of course they are there, because they are things I have seen and felt and thought and imagined or whatever. Being an artist means knowing how to assemble them, how to arrange them, how to harmonize them.

My memory is holding these things hostage. Instead, it offers up to me things I won’t bring myself to write about, things I haven’t figured out, things that are dreary and boring. It is trying to artifically contruct a kind of melancholy for me by flooding my mind with things that happened six years ago, things that I have been over so many times that I have already robbed them of their creative potential. Essentially, my memory is boring me.

This is because my memory is a monster.

“Your memory is a monster; you forget – it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you.” –John Irving

Now generally, when I read this line from A Prayer for Owen Meany, I think of my memory as a monster because it does something like this:

The song, the first notes of which summon a wave. You don’t choose which things to summon, so if it brings you flashes of kisses and your hand being held, glances and knowing laughs, you feel something sharp that you may even try to physically shake from your head. But it might be the stalled conversations, or that fatal conversation, the mistake you made that, when you made it, and every time you’re forced, by the monster, into recalling it, you look away. Then it’s different, it’s dull, it’s almost elucidating.

But now, today, I need these memories, personal or impersonal, things I’ve experience or simply been witness to, ideas I’ve thought of, stories I’ve heard, small details stored somewhere, and yes, fatal conversations, or at least the analysis conversation with someone else about that fatal conversation.  I am seeking the wave, I need the flood, I want to be awash in things being summoned so rapidly that I have no choice but to write. And my memory holds them from me.

And the day I am not ready, the day I’ve had enough and I am not seeking out feelings from the past, but rather being innundated with stress in the present, this seemingly unshakable levee will break.  And I will, once again, for yet another reason, call it a monster.