Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I forgot that when I'm feeling stumped and fried and empty of the fuel I need to finish major projects, that just making a teeny bit of headway can make me feel like a huge success. I have to give myself the chance to make that headway though. That's the thing.

Today, I'm a champ.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Late wrap-up

Next year I promise myself I will not be surprised by the "best picture" category at the Oscars. I will not throw up my hands and say "WHY?" when the picture I believe in my heart to have been the better film takes away best Art Direction or screenplay as a nod.

I have to remember this is the U.S. The Academy doesn't care if a film was deep, haunting, emotionally intimate and powerfully transformative (Babel) when there's a Scorcese-Dicaprio-Nicholson-and lots of guns-picture on the table. What was I thinking?

Yet I admit that I was surprised when Crash--which rubs its message in your face like easy-cheese sprayed out of a can(and which Annie Proulx herself referred to as "Trash" ha!)--won when Brokeback Mountain handled the subject of discrimination based on something a person can't change with far more finesse and beauty.

I think that's just one of the differences between me and the Academy members (that, and I don't have a penis to call my own)...they tend to go for big, bold and melodramatic over slow, well-developed and cinematographically masterful. Look at the last 7 years.

A Beautiful Mind
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Million Dollar Baby

The only truly quiet film in there is Million Dollar Baby and I did think it was a good film, though I can't remember what it was up against. I thought they were being quite cheeky when they gave it to the musical Chicago--which was a rip-roaring good time of a film, but best picture? C'mon! The only one I unequivocally agree with is Lord of the Rings. Forget the genre, the films were brilliant on all levels (yes, I said films. They should have given the award for the whole trilogy). I think even Tolkein, if you got him high, might have agreed.

So I guess this year I have finally come out of my denial. I rarely agree with the choices. I would have given best supporting actress to Adriana Barazza from Babel, whose acting was so convincing that I actually worried about the time she'd have to spend in jail. Or the amazing performance of Rinko Kikuchi, who plays Chieko--the deaf Japanese girl acting out the pain of her mother's suicide. She was AMAZING. Truly. I think Leo did a better job than Alan Arkin--though I loved Little Miss Sunshine.

Honestly, the best thing about the show for me was Ellen Degeneres--who I don't normally even like. Despite all the stupid criticism floating out there, she was natural, she was funny and she didn't try to steal the show a la Billy Crystal.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Girls may want to have fun, but sometimes they forget how

I am in a weird mood today. Define weird, Jordan. Well...I dunno, itchy, restless, resistant. I don't wanna work on my book. I don't wanna look at the puke that's calling itself my fiction today. I don't wanna finish an article or write queries. But I do want to be creative.

I don't want to color with my cool triangular crayons.
I don't want to make jewelry.
I don't want to dance funky in the mirror.
I don't want to write very bad poetry.
I don't want to fold paper airplanes.

You know what I want? For one day, to be a genius. Just one day, and to write genius things for that one day.

I want to watch dawn in a glass house.
I want to swim in a saltwater pool.
I want to snap my fingers and discover my deadlines finished.

I'm afraid that I've forgotten how to have fun. How to self-entertain. Even blogging is boring.



Nobody dishes on Idol better than Susan DiPlacido. Her blog is the only thing that makes the seasons tolerable...

Check her out.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I've decided that American Idol is a show you are best served by watching every other year. Two years in a row and you start to see all the obvious assembly-line production value of it's designed to sell big advertising bucks, titillate the young masses, and pop out another sterilized "artist" who won't even get to record an album that is from their soul for years, if they ever break free of the machine.

I realized last night that I don't even like most of the music on the show. I have never bought an album of a single Idol winner. There's one Kelly Clarkson song I like; I've been saying I might check out Taylor Hicks' album because I really did think he was unique since last year; and I thought Fantasia was a different breed until I saw her streamlined, soulless MTV video in which she looked and sounded like any, and I mean any, hip-hop artist. I'll admit it--I'm watching purely for the drama and even that's starting to feel lackluster.

Not that the sponsors or the executives care--their pocketbooks will be as fat no matter if there are a handful of us who don't invest a dime or even cast a single vote.


On that note, I've been thinking about how ephemeral fame is. As someone who has aspirations to publish a novel it's been good for me to work in a bookstore again and be reminded of how quickly the average title passes out of public consciousness. About a month. If it got a mention in People, on Oprah or was written by someone famous, it has just a teensy bit longer shelf-life. The stuff that sticks around for a really long time is very rare.That means there's enormous pressure to make it big fast, to burst onto the scene with something wild and edgy, with some "high concept" hook that makes editors drool, because in this culture, that's all you've got unless you're an exception to the rule. (For perspective, do you realize that Britney Spears, whose career seems to already be in some kind of Elvis-in-his-fat-boozy-final-days-stage) is only 25 years old??).

Which brings me back to what the hell is the point of making art anyway? I'm reverting to the "for the fun of it" attitude again, bolstered by the "to make meaning" idea. I'm writing to entertain myself at the moment. If I succeed, maybe I'll entertain someone else. I'd be perfectly okay with being paid to different than some cheesy singer in a Vegas casino. Even those guys make the occasional person cry, right?

But this grasping after fame and fortune in this culture of overnight success is not for me. I used to think I just wanted to publish a book. Now I realize how fleeting even that can be. I mean, the urge is still with me, and I doubt I'll stop trying, but I am getting more and more comfortable with the idea that I just write novels because I do. Because it's more satisfying to have the very first thing I do in the morning be to tell myself a story than anything else.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'm sitting at my desk looking out at the coolest storm clouds on the horizon. The sky behind them is pale indigo, shot through with these larger, more ominous plum-colored cloud masses in an interesting pattern that reminds me of the sky equivalent of a cracked desert. Very cool.

And for some reason which I can only attribute to free association I thought this:

If I could go back in time to my geeky, bookish little self at all the insufferable ages of vulnerability in which people like Paige Green and Michelle Monahan and others whose names I've thankfully forgotten waged the cruelty that kids are so good at, I would not intervene and give myself a makeover. I would not tell myself to hide the fear that gave me away. I would not tell myself to blend in. I would whisper each night, "Hang in there kid. It all pays off in the end."

Now you may not agree, and in fact you may violently disagree, that being nerdy or geeky or bookish pays off when you're an adult. You definitely may not agree that it might even be the "better" way to be. After all, don't popular kids build better self-esteem and go through the world feeling good about themselves? Maybe. Maybe they feel TOO good about themselves. Maybe they believe life is easy. Maybe they think everyone should always think they are the greatest. Or maybe those very people I thought were popular were just normal kids banding together to hide their own insecurities. I don't know, but I still wouldn't trade.

All I know is that everything that I was teased for as a child--being "too mature," preferring books to people, not having the "it" clothes of the season, coming from a family that had little money in a county where every other household was wealthy--has come to serve me as an adult. Honestly. I like myself. Not every day, but the general picture. I'll never be a knockout--I gave up on that early on. I'll never be the smartest person in the room, or the most entertaining. I may not make you laugh, and quite often something stupid or insulting will escape my mouth.
But I believe that in the confounding geometry of our lives I got lucky. I have enough. I am enough. I was born in a free country and I've had an awful lot of freedom in my life to make choices. I've exercised a lot of choices already and experienced a lot of different situations with very little collateral suffering. My life has texture, not perfection, and as a writer, I'm grateful for that.

Yeah, that's what those storm clouds made me think...strange, huh?


Friday, February 16, 2007

My art and I are going through difficult times. We should be in couples therapy, we're so uncertain of each other. I used to feel I knew who I was as a writer, but now I'm trying to find out all over again.

I don't write stories anymore...the motivation literally just disappeared after graduate school. I write novels, but not the girl-comes-home-seeking-redemption-family-dramas anymore. The last two novels I've written (okay, one is still in progress) have taken a decidedly off beat path. They take liberties with reality, and yes I'm dodging the word fantasy because they're not set in funny kyndoms peopled by magic-spinning creatures and mystical royal families. They're set in reality but they ask the reader to consider that some elements of our mundane lives may not be as mundane as we think. that who I am as a writer?

I think I've become a writer who finds the questions more interesting than the answers and sets out to write narratives that will allow readers to answer questions I pose for themselves. The thing is, I just don't know if I'm any good.

I know, it's funny after all these years to ask it. But my novels are still unpublished. I'm still writing them, but I have lost my ability to feel where I stand in relationship to the publishing world. I used to think I had what it takes. Now I just don't know. I wish, instead, that I could reach directly out to readers--deliver my novels into their hands without the middle guy. Of course, in this culture, we call that self-publishing, and it is sneered at.

I think I need a retreat. Some reflection time. Who is Jordan E. Rosenfeld, writer? What does she have to say?


As a fiction writer, much of what I do is organize randomness into some kind of satisfying matrix or pattern that might give some spark of pleasure to a reader (and myself).

And while this post is not about my fiction writing per se, it is about looking at patterns. More specifically the patterns of life's boxing gloves smacking into me over the past few months. I aim to find a way to keep myself from getting near that scum-covered bottom end of the spectrum where there is a noticeable absence of joy, motivation, meaning, etc.

Ten months ago, when we moved here, we were on an up-note because it was the first real light in the dark of necessary change and we were nervous, but excited. I'd say the first three months were just a process of exploration and getting acquainted and still full of bright-eyed enthusiasm (these were also lovely spring months).

Then there was the post- 4th of July crash when I thought all the fun was still happening without us in Petaluma...followed by the fuck-my-novel-didn't-sell-again crash shortly after my 32nd birthday. That one sucked pretty hard.

With the help of activities that Becca Lawton and I do with our Write Free work, and the generous support of other writers, I bounced back...far back up and was feeling really good again and working on a revision and life was a small party again.

Then the holidays came, and they came without mercy, and then some, and I felt myself hurled back down into a foul soup of confusion and angst and hurt and disappointments. And I thought for sure this was not going to break, but finally, at blissful last, it did. It broke so completely that I felt high with joy for about two days, full of energy and good plans. It was so freeing and I was so grateful.

Then Figaro died. Oh man. That took another month out of me, and turned me very negative about everything. I didn't want to be here in our new town, I didn't want to write...I was alone...blah blah.

Then I made some connections at work, possibly a new project I'll talk about later, and suddenly hope shot me its irresistible apple-cheeked smile once again.

Then I got mercilessly crushed by the flu.

So you see, we have a significant pattern over the last 10 months. Crushing lows, and then bounce back periods which are cruelly short, mere logs floating in the sea for me to hang an arm upon and catch my breath before the next damn wave.

So Universe, I'm begging here. Give me a little break, okay? If I've got 150 life lessons left to learn, I'll do it, I'll be a good student. But can I just have a little extended happiness for awhile? I really need it if I am to get anything done.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Does the world seem loud to you? It does to me. I mean, probably nothing like poorly rigged bombs in Iraq blowing up your friends, but still. Loud trucks, loud dogs, loud music, loud people talking about their lives at decibels that seem unnecessary. And below the very loud there is a level of sound that I find equally egregious: of computers whining and power lines buzzing and the static of cell phones and tvs blaring.

I wonder how the world sounds to someone who wakes from a coma?

A quiet monastery sounds lovely right now.

Nothing tastes good except cereal and jelly beans. Nothing, since Saturday night. In fact, the idea of food still seems vaguely repulsive.

Everyone is happy to see it sunny again, but I liked the rain. It felt right.

I'm lucky.


The problem with being sick for five days is that now that I feel well enough to post, I have nothing to say! I'm glad to be upright, and showered, and free of the chills and fever. I still have the cough, but that feels like paradise in comparison.

Now I'm just working on buoying up my spirits. Last night's episode of American Idol didn't really help. I hate the catty stage where the groups fight, and a spirit of meanness prevails. Hollywood week is the perfect example of how few people really want to see anyone else succeed. Best friends tear into each other; nice kids launch angry salvos, and people's true colors fly as loud as ever.

It's more than possible to have success without hurting/criticizing or even being envious of others. But it takes more time to build that way and we're a culture of quick fixes. The faster the fame, the better... or so people think. Usually, when it hits you as fast as it does on Idol, it also burns away fast.

I think my brain is still fever-boiled. I don't feel like I'm making much sense.

More as I improve.


Monday, February 12, 2007

One big nasty flu bug has prevented me from blogging the past few days (or doing much else, for that matter). Give me a couple more days and then I'll be back to my old tricks. (I hope!)


Friday, February 09, 2007

A lot of people don't feel sorry for self-destructive types when they eventually meet their fate. People felt that Steve Irwin was asking for it, what with all his taunting of crocodiles and poisonous snakes, even though the manner of his death was highly unusual. And I'm sure there are many who feel that way about Anna Nicole Smith., who seemed the poster girl for addiction. While I certainly subscribe to the idea that we create the situations in which we find ourselves, and I do believe she had drug/alcohol problems, I still think it's sad.

What a strange and sad road her life was. I always wonder if people have premonitions about their death. Did she know weeks or days before that she would be dead at 39 leaving behind her five month old baby, who doesn't even have a sure-fire father (that Howard K. Stern fellow...yikes. ) Maybe she didn't care.

I also find it amusing to hear people like Hugh Hefner and Larry King suddenly having nice things to say about her. It's hard to disparage a dead person. Especially one we were happy to exploit while she was alive.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Community is an idea I wonder if very many of us Americans (north Americans, ok Patricia :) think about. What does it even mean to you when you read the word? Some people still hook it up to the "commune" ideas of the 60s/70s and imagine a bunch of earthy types making potluck dinners and letting their babies mingle in the communal dirt together.

But in essence, every one of us lives in some sort of community, whether or not we notice/acknowledge it. Our communites are determined by many things: by the layout of our homes/neighborhoods. By common ethnic or religious or spiritual bonds that exist in our city or region; by economic factors; by cultural commonalities.

To me, a positive sense of community is synonymous with belonging, a feeling I've discovered that not everyone needs in the same degree. I have just as many friends who do not need the town outside of their home to fulfill any major needs beyond essential shopping nor the people to be anything more than co-inhabitants. I have other friends for whom physical environment is so important they can't live in sight of a building and would live in the forest if humanly possible. Other of my friends need access to spiritual or religious groups and this determines where they'll live.

I like to feel that I belong, that I know and am known. That when I venture into town, I am likely to see familiar faces who recognize me. I like to have familiar spots where I can go and hang out and expect a certain stability from. I like to participate in events that benefit the community in which I live. I like to believe that as people residing within the same square mileage, we have an effect on each other, and to have a conscious effect is better. In short, I like to feel included, and to give back to the group that includes me.

I like to read the news and feel like it pertains to me, and that I have the ability to respond to situations that develop, propositions, civic issues.

Working at the local, independent book store in town is a good step, but it's a very small one toward actually getting deeper into my community. I have to befriend people, and attend events, and get involved.

And as a new resident of this town, still clinging to the roots of my past community, I have to admit that this is harder than I expected. I want it to be instant. I want it to come effortlessly, and it does not.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Secret Smile more like a frown

I was supposed to have blogged about Secret Smile, by Nicci French on Feb. 3rd, but it being the weekend, and I,being tired, just didn't. Actually there's another reason, and that reason is called The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to his Country.

The latter is a book that is being touted as "YA literature (young adult), and is one of the most disturbing, beautiful, unearthly books I have ever read. So as much as I intended to talk about Secret Smile, which, in a nutshell is about a socio-path named Bernard who ruins the life of one family when the woman he dates, Miranda, spurns him after catching him reading her journal, I've been far too distracted.

Secret Smile does have some wonderfully paced moments of anxiety, and the author duo who write behind the moniker Nicci French, do a fabulous job of really making you both fear for Miranda and hate Bernard for all the right reasons. I read it in a day. The problem is, unlike even parts of our last book, Suite Francaise, it doesn't stay with you. It's like fast food. Tasty and a little bad for you in the reading, with no nutritional value later. I am not intending to trash the book. It will entertain you, and it is well enough written that I didn't labor over the language, but it confirmed my feeling that when a narrative puts a character in so much unrelieved stress/conflict/suffering without a break, it wears the reader down.

Octavian Nothing, on the other hand is a singular book. I have never read anything like it. It skirts all the cliche ways, the stereotypes that have been used to write about the subject it contains, which the reader does not at first know. I really don't know why they call it YA literature. If it is, it should be read with others, so it can be discussed and understood because it is so dense, so dark, and so complex that a young adult could find themselves lost in it.

Read Secret Smile if you need a beach book. But if you want a truly meaningful, glorious reading experience, then read Octavian Nothing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

There's this thing I've been hearing about. Normal people do it; crazed homocidal maniacs do it; teachers and politicians and sales reps and animal trainers also (though sadly very few migrant workers, mothers of small children or impoverished people).

This thing requires that you postpone all activity, often lie prostrate, do not engage in conversation and absolutely come nowhere near a computer, a television or a cell phone. Often it's suggested one do this alone, or at most, with, at most, one other person or a single, obedient pet.

I've long heard of it, but rarely attempted it, but maybe you have?

It's called rest.

Apparently it's quite good for the soul and the body too. Rejuvenating, pleasurable and best of all it requires very little preparation (except to walk away from the 685 projects you have going at any given moment).

Those of us who are new to the activity of rest are fairly easy to spot, I've been told. Our eyes are often slightly bugged out, bloodshot or pinned from some form of stimulant, or just the sheer endorphin rush of our own activities. We often appear to be listening to some inner music that only we can hear and, when spoken to, may take a longer-than-usual number of seconds to register that we've heard you, usually with the phrase, "Huh, whatssat?"

We are liable to feign the activity of rest, to attempt blending in, by reading, walking or watching television while simultaneously folding laundry, or by posting on our blogs rather than actually doing the proscribed nothing that is the main prerequisite of this rest business.

Stopping, you see, for those of us who are rest-resistant, takes us one large step closer to a terrible, frightening place where personal demons, unanswered letters, forgotten memories, books we've meant to read, clothes we've meant to give to the goodwill, big dreams we've planned to achieve but have not gotten around to, and bilious rages at various and assorted guardians who may have either raised us or contributed to that botched job, reside. Despite that those who do engage in it tend to have lovely complexions and full, perky breasts, extremely luxurious heads of hair and longer life spans, I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to it yet. I don't know that they've looked into the side-effects very well.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Kindness of Neighbors

Dear neighbor, I want to thank you. Thank you for playing your sweetly melodic rap music, with its harmonious bass line thrumming like a clogged leafblower outside my window. It's kind of you to turn it up so very loud--how did you know that I am deaf due to the construction taking place around the corner, what with all those nasty tractors and jack-hammers. Without your kind thought for decibel level I would never have heard the music that clearly speaks to your soul and now to mine: Got bitches shutting you down in the C.L.K So artfully delivered: You'se a busta, a customer, a sucker / You fake fraudulent motherfucker.

Thank you, thank you thank you for sharing.

I felt this line in particular, which I will leave you with as a closing:

Fuck till I nut then get up, I'm gone (yeah)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I find this upsetting.

I am going to miss her.