Posts Tagged ‘Project Runway’

I Can Do This

October 20, 2013

I can totally do this.

“You can do this,” the small, still voice in my head said.

Not the crazy chorus of naysayers that usually live up there, and suddenly I saw where and when and how.

Last night after I finished my blog I watched a badly pirated version of Project Runway, hey we all have our foibles shut up, and then regarded the message a friend of mine had sent me about November Novel Writing month.

Or whatever the acronym is.

Basically it is a call to arms, or words, if you would, to write a novel in one month.

It’s totally doable.

I have done it before.

I can do it again.

I will be doing it again.

As it turns out,  I signed up for the thing.

The last time I took a writing challenge it was to do a post-a-day blog back nearly four years ago.

And look at me now.

Blogging away, even at two a.m.

Soul Coughing cheerily singing away about the Chrysler Building, and a hot cup of Bengal Spice tea by my side.  I lit up some candles, ambience you know, and slipped into my yoga pants.

After taking a few amusing photographs of my larger than life hair.

The foggy ride home did a number on it, it is gigantic.

I mean really.

The last time I had hair this big was when I was in Paris and I went and saw LOUISAAAA performing at a club.

I was out until the wee small alcohol soaked hours of the literally underground music scene–the club was a gigantic cavernous underground space–and my hair was smashed with cigarette smoke, sweat, and the vodka fumed breath of thousands of early twenty something grinding away in a night club.

I walked home that night through the chilly mist and felt like my hair was expanding off my head and it certainly was.

I took photographs of myself in the kitchen of the apartment and posted them up.

Partially because I felt sexy for being in Paris and being up at five a.m. at an underground night club, and well, my hair looked freaking amaze balls.

It did not smell good, but that’s the magic of photographs, they’re not scratch and sniff.

I have Paris a lot on my mind.

Harking back to this time last year as the last few days were winding down to my inevitable leaving, because I was given a book tonight “Time Was Soft There” a memoir of a man who lived above the infamous Shakespeare & Company on the Left Bank of Paris, and because of the aforementioned novel-writing month thingy.

First, let me say that I have no plans on writing a memoir of my time in Paris.

Second, let me say that I will be using every single experience, taste, touch, smell, notebook and blog post that I wrote to help me write this novel.

I wrote the synopsis on the website last night after I registered to do it.

I have had this idea kicking around for a while and thought I would be writing a short story but, no.

I am writing a novel.

I am further writing a science fiction novel.

Despite the last science fiction novel I read was when….

No clue.

I don’t really read sci-fi or fantasy.

Although I do love a good bodice ripper sci-fi read once in a while.

And some of my favorite writers, especially short story, were science fiction writers.

H.G. Wells.

Phillip K. Dick.

Frank Herbert.

Ray Bradbury.

I feel the general style of the writing will be something akin to Dick or Bradbury.

I do not put myself at their level, nor will I ever label myself as such, I am however, going to explore writing this genre.

My setting will be Paris.

The Paris of a post-apocalyptic world and the Paris of the near recent past.

Like, oh, beginning a little over six months ago.

I have the opening line.

“The monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town.”

I have a thematic “man against the world”.

And there will be a love story, the near recent Parisian past will frame the love story.

Despite my not having a romantic liaison there, many, so many romantic things happened to me, not excluding receiving a package with mixed cds in it from a lover back in the states.

The night I got it was raining and I was disconsolate and the rain sluiced down in the courtyard and I was cold and lonely and it was raining in Paris and then I open the package, see the book, cry to find a few Euro tucked in the book, and then the cds.

I made it a quarter through one of the songs and started to leak tears.

Two songs in, maybe, it could have actually been the first one, I was sobbing.

Gut wrenching sobs.

Heart breaking open sobs.

And did I regret things?


I actually wanted to feel some regret, but I knew that the feeling was bogus.

The choice to move to Paris, abandoning so many things, so many loved ones, lovers, and familiar places and faces to embark on a new journey into the unknown, carrying its own kind of romantic peril was totally the right decision.

It was.

My heart got peeled down to cordon and tendon.

I was not just wearing a heart on my sleeve, it was bleeding all over and it was a mass of sinew and song.

I won’t ever forget that night, it was ghastly romantic and it was all in my head.

It usually is.

The stories.

The story was already there.

It was just waiting to be lived.

The places I walked, the people I met, the kindness and sometimes unkindness of strangers, the Trocadero Bridge, seeing people come into visit that I had not really known very well and watch them become my friend and compatriot and supporter over night, all the museums and smells, the chocolate and boulangeries.



I have some material.

“Carmen, most writers would kill to have had the experiences you have had,” Alan Kaufman said to me once from his perch in the corner of his room up in the Tender Nob.

And that was seven years ago.

I have had a few more experiences to add to that.

I have a wealth of material to exploit and exploit I am.

“Write a book in a month?  Seriously?”  A friend who I poked to join the challenge e-mailed me back.

I could hear the incredulity in his voice.


I did it when I took Kaufman’s class, and I do it every day, here, in this blog.

You think this isn’t some kind of book, The Book of Carmen (versus the Book of Dave, which I will also not compare myself, ever to Will Self, that is just retarded to think that), then you would be wrong.

This is a living memoir.

I am my own version of Anais Nin.

Sexy in my own way, courageous in my failings, leaping again, and again, into the arms of the unknown, fraught and full of angst, but also laughing like a fucking idiot when I do.

Because it is a kind of crazy love, this romance with the written.

I realized today when I was writing my morning pages that I did actually have time, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays between work and early evening commitments to sit down in a cafe, maybe Tart to Tart or the Beanery at 7th and Irving, and write a 1,000 words or more, and Thursdays.

Well, shit, Thursday is easy, I will write during my charges THREE  HOUR nap.

Friday I have currently booked as a half day, so I can get that kicked out then.

Saturday and Sunday, when I am not surfing, heh, I will also write.

I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but it’s there.

I have it.

I don’t know how it ends.

But I know how it starts.

And I know that I can do it.

Oh, yes I can.

Day Off

July 31, 2011

Today may mark the first Saturday in months that I really did nothing.

Well, I did a few things, I did the deal, I met to discuss the deal, and I made my bed.  I also cooked up a pot of French red lentil soup and some brown rice for meals for the upcoming week.

But, I really, truly, gave myself a day off.  No going to Wisconsin.  No housewarming party.  No moving.  Just a lazy day.

I enjoyed my space, I made some of my favorite meals.  I watched Project Runway in my pajamas.  I love Project Runway.  I love clothes.  I love design.  I am a closeted fashionista with a subscription to Vogue and W.  Two of my treasures in-house are a Harpers Bazaar from 1962 that I bought at Kayo Books in the Tender Nob (for those of you not conversant in San Francisco, that is the neighborhood that is not really the Tenderloin and not really Nob Hill.  It’s also been called Lower Nob Hill or Tenderloin Heights.  But really, it is the Tender Nob) and a French Vogue that I splurged on a few months ago.

Plus, Project Runway is near and dear to my heart as it came out when I was going through a very tumultuous time in my life and I would sit in the living room at the house on 25th and Potrero and eat gobs and gobs of ice cream and watch the show religiously.  I ate a lot of ice cream that first season.  I smoked a lot of cigarettes.  I drank an ass load of coffee.

I actually learned how to use my room mates TiVo to record the last episode of the show–the finale–so that I could watch it when I got up in the morning for work.  I was working at Absinthe in Hayes Valley and I had closed that night, it was a Friday and I was slated to be the opening person for brunch.  I could not stay up late.

But I could.  Because I gleefully realized that, yes, I would not be getting as much sleep as I would like if I watched the finale, however, I would be getting eighteen times the amount of sleep that I had gotten just 68 days prior.  And I would not be hung over for the shift.  That really, the only preparation I needed was to get to work a few minutes earlier than I would to make myself a latte and go out back and smoke a cigarette with it before the shift began.

What a concept.  Not going into work cracked back and hung over.  I could stay up late and watch the finale that I had recorded.  And I did just that.

I know people who sew and design and they hate on the show.  Maybe it’s because I don’t do any of that, that I enjoy it so much.  I like to imagine myself in the challenges and think about what I could do if I had sewing skills.  My sewing skills are limited to being able to sew a button back onto a shirt and stringing popcorn and cranberries on a piece of thread for garland on the Christmas tree.

That’s it.

But, man I love clothes.  I love fashion.  It was an escape for me growing up.  The fashion magazines that I got when I was cognizant that there was a world outside of Windsor, Wisconsin.  And I wanted in it.  It did not matter that I was not a size 4.  It did not matter that I did not know how to style myself or what looked good on me.  I just knew that I liked clothes and wanted to be fashionable.

Maybe it had something to do with Kerri in 7th grade making fun of the Valentines Day socks my mom had given me.  Or perhaps it was the abject horror of wearing the purple sweat shirt to school that had the knitted bear on it that I got from my step-fathers side of the family at Christmas, but at some point between eighth and ninth grade I developed  a sense of wanting to find myself in fashion.

I also was a bit of an outcast kid with parents that had neither the money or the inclination to purchase trendy clothes for their children.  My sister being an artist, was able to manipulate her clothes, and had she not taken a spiral into the addictions and diseases that seem to run so rampant in my family, may have done something with that talent.

I on the other hand, had and still have, an eye.  But I did not have the money to back up that eye.

Around age thirteen I was told that I was to purchase my own school clothes.  Mom would pay for school supplies, but if I wanted clothes, I had to buy them myself.

I worked detassling corn (a machine can detassle, that is remove the female reproductive part of the corn so that it does not impregnate itself, allowing the male seed corn to pollinate the female corn.  However, it can miss a lot of the tassle, whereas a small childs hand can get right down in there and pluck it out cleanly).  Hot, hard, sweaty, nasty farm labor work.  When I started the wage was less than minimum, because it was farm labor, and the state allowed its farmers to pay under minimum wage as farming was considered a family job.  Kaltenberg Seed Farms used this as a loop-hole to pay its child labor less than minimum.  The caveat being was that we were all hired at minimum and would be “bonused” in at that wage at the end of the season if we missed no more than three days of work all summer–if one missed more than the three days allowed, you received an hourly wage of $2.85 vs. $3.15.

I missed no days.  I never missed a day.  I worked my ass off that summer.  And the following three summers that I worked for them.  I will never forget Stacey Larson asking me where I went for summer, she guessed Florida, because I had such a smoking tan.  Nope, I was out in the corn fields the entire summer.  I was dirty, dusty, thirsty, and miserable all summer long.  But I wanted to work to afford clothes.

Want to know what I bought?

A distressed leather bomber jacket with a white rabbit fur detachable collar.  I fucking loved that jacket.  It represented everything that I wanted to be.  Cool.  Indomitable.  Aloof.  Outside.  I was not a part of the small town I lived in.  I was going to put my aviator shades on and walk out those corn fields and live my dreams.

I miss that jacket.  Not sure when and where it got lost in my travels.  But I wore the hell out of it.  And having had the experience of starting over from scratch at the ripe age of 32, I fell back in love with fashion and the escape it offered me as some one newly minted in a manner of living I had very little idea how to do.

Project Runway is my secret love.  Fashion, my not so secret love.  I don’t have that bomber jacket, but I do have two amazing An Ren New York pieces, both jackets, that warm my soul like that bomber jacket did all the way back when.

I am living my own dream.  I got out.  And I get to be fabulous, and today, well rested as well.

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