Emotional Vibrator

Emotional vibrator is a phrase I used in my last post in regards to Gigi, the most recent lady of the online night to take her leave of me. And really, who can blame her, right?

I thought it quite clever myself, although I’m not sure I coined the phrase. In any case, it seemed to me what Gigi wanted me to be for her, an emotional affirmation machine to help soothe her through her most recent break-up blah blah blah. But of course I was unwilling to do that because it seemed a one-sided and ultimately losing proposition for me. I don’t expect a sure thing – although I did like that 80s movie with John Cusack;

but let’s face it I dig any movie with John Cusack in it (and a chick like Nicollette Sheriedan), man I can’t wait to see the new movie with him about Edgar Allen Poe….wait, what was I talking about.

Oh yeah, vibrators, of the emotional variety.

Of course, this is not just a woman thing. Men do it too (though in a slightly different way I suppose), they seek out women to soothe them emotionally, and when they are done being soothed, they clean up, dispose of their emotional self-healing toy and move on.

I’ve been called out for doing something like this, being told – no, not just told but literally chastised: “I can’t fix you!” All for expressing the fact that I was feeling sad and missed my family. I didn’t expect this particular woman to fix me. In fact, the very notion was laughable; she was so fucked up herself.

That’s part of why my date the other night was so cool. I could actually talk about my ex – good and bad – and was not punished for it – some women will come right  out and tell you they are not interested in hearing about it, others will simply glaze over and check out, others will get an irritated look on their face, still others will pretend to listen and simply disappear later. But that was not the case. My date spoke of her ex, in both good and bad terms. And really that should be allowed, up to a point. And I think because I was allowed to express a few things it was easy to simply shut up about it…more or less.

But that is not where I was planning on going with this. No. My intention was to bring up the phrase Emotional Vibrator (you know, even though  I may not have coined it, I wonder if I could still copyright it? Is that possible?) because it gave me an idea for an App.

The App would of course be called: Emotional Vibrator. Or perhaps even better  Your Emotional Vibrator. And it would work like Siri on the iPhone 4. You could lament and complain and bitch and piss and moan and whine an gripe to it all you wanted and all it would ever do is offer you positive affirmation and support, agree with you, soothe you. And it would never get tired of your pathetic bullshit like everyone has.

There could even be a PlusVersion of it that has an actual vibrator attachment that you can…..

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Stay Awake: stories

I haven’t written anything in awhile.  I had planned to write about my new job, working in an office that is an interesting mix of Gen X and Millennials, with a few Boomers thrown for good (or not…) measure, but that hasn’t really happened, now has it.

Yesterday, though, on my way home from work, I had to stop at the bookstore — Barnes and Noble because there are no more Borders (B-o-o H-o-o) — to by a copy of “Stay Awake,” a new collection of short stories by Dan Chaon.

I have been waiting for this book to come out ever since I first learned of it’s existence, which was some time ago, although how long exactly I can’t quite recall. No matter. It is here.

I have been following Mr. Chaon since his very first collection of short stories, “Fitting Ends,” was published in 1995 by Triquarterly Books.

I  was still a graduated student in the MFA program at Western Michigan University, hoping to be a writer of short stories myself some day. I must have come across this book at John Rollins bookstore in Portage, MI, right up Westnedge from Kalamazoo, where WMU is located. That was a great independent bookstore. But I’m not sure it exists anymore. A google search does not turn it up. <sigh>

Anyhoo…. I recall being so taken by the stories in “Fitting Ends” that I wrote to the publisher in hopes of contacting the author, Mr. Chaon. This was before it was so easy to track someone down via the internet. To my surprise, the publisher passed on my letter to Dan and he eventually wrote to me. For a time we exchanged letters and emails, which was a fresh technology at the time. Eventually, though, the correspondences ended and life moved on.

I remember I was in the Borders on Woodward in Birmingham, I’m pretty sure, when, scanning the shelves for something to read, I came across Dan’s second collection of short stories, “Among the Missing.”

I remember sitting and reading it but ultimately not buying, perhaps because it was in hardcover and I was a new father and concerned about money and therefore didn’t feel right about dropping that kind of cash on a book (huh, if only my ex had felt the same sense of fiscal responsibility when it came to her hair or clothes). But later I did buy it in paperback.

A few years later, not long after I started my job at the Baldwin Public Library, one of the hot fiction books at the time was Dan Chaon’s first novel, “You Remind Me of Me.”

I spent my early lunch hours absorbed in this exceptional novel.

And of course I was super duper excited when, years later, still working at the library, I saw that Dan’s new novel, “Await You Reply,” was to be released. I counted down the days until the book was available. And immediately devoured it once it was. Of course, because I was the main copy cataloger at the library I was the first one to get my hot little hands on this novel. I had the first hold.

In fact, I believe I wrote a blog spot about it.  Ah, yes. Here it is. In it I identify Dan Chaon as a GenX write, a label he agreed with, you’ll see in his reply to my post. Of course, I was tickled that he’d managed to find my meager little post on my meager little blog.

I remember being exceptionally fascinated with the premise of this novel, at least in part because it was about characters who “just walk away” from their life. I made a comparison to the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” because it deals with the same sort of thing with John Cusack’s character, who had walked away from his life abruptly one day. I can’t help wondering now if that interested me so much because at the time I secretly wanted to walk away from the life I was living — the oppressively soul-crushing marriage to a narcissist part NOT the being the father to the sweetest little girl in the world part.

Anyhoo…. this brings us back to Mr. Chaon’s new collection of short stories, “Stay Awake,” which, after reading the first two stories, I am sure is going to be exceptional from beginning to end, and which is going to be on of my favored collections for years to come, if not eternity. Well, my eternity anyway. I wonder. What will my daughter do with all my books when I am gone? Will she just donate them? Toss them? Keep perhaps a few? I should probably discuss this matter with her at some point. But probably I should concentrate on getting her through middle school and adolescence and all of that first, hug.

These stories, so far, are hard stories. Harsh. In fact, there almost seem like horror stories in a way. Very grim. Unsettling. But I love them for that very quality. Unlike the  reviewer on amazon who didn’t like the collection because people suffer in it, because it troubled him. This is an attitude, frankly, that I don’t get. What do people want? Short stories are not TV shows; they are not meant to make you feel good so that you’ll be in a receptive mood for whatever advertising comes between portions of the show. But…everyone is entitled to his/her opinion….for good or ill.

What really struck me about the first two stories in the collection  — The Bees and Patrick Lane, Flabbergasted — was how for each main character there is this confusion between what is really happening and what is just a trick of the mind or perhaps a dream or even something else, something unexplainable, and how these worlds, real and imagined and otherwise, mash and mix together. It’s the kind of thing that I like to experiment with in my own writing from time to time, particularly in a longer piece (novella length) that I have been working on.

Having said all that, perhaps far too much at this point, I am eager to get back to the book now.

Because of John Cusak: a story

 

Because of John Cusack


It was because of John Cusack that I contacted Josie.

I was watching that movie “High Fidelity” (based on the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby) in which John Cusack plays a character named Rob who owns a record store in Chicago and who has made rather a mess of his relationship with his current girlfriend and in an effort to understand what went wrong with his life he looks up five ex-girlfriends, the top five.  I’m not sure if Josie even qualifies as one of my top five ex-girlfriends since we were never really together to begin with. (We never got the chance to get to that point. Our relationship, such as it was, never got passed the hooking up stage. How could it? I was sort of dating my now ex-wife at the time. And Josie was in the process of relocating from Michigan to California for her job. We met at work.) But she was special, I knew that. She was smart and sweet, and I liked talking to her, a lot. I thought talking to her now might offer me some insight into where I’d gone wrong in my life.

I have to admit, though, it was more than that. Because even though our relationship never got passed that initial charged infatuation stage, I was sure that the strong feelings I had for her were genuine. I just never got the chance to tell her how I felt. Like an idiot I let her leave without divulging my true heart to her. I was too scared too. And now, now that I was divorced and truly free to pursue something with her, I guess part of me wondered if it wasn’t possible for us to pick up where we’d left off.

I found Josie on Facebook. It was amazing how little time and effort it actually took. But once I did find her I was suddenly leery about contacting her, recalling how abruptly I’d cut off communication with her. Josie hadn’t left the company that we worked for; she’d only taken a position with a division in California. Even so I figured I’d probably never hear from her again. Or maybe I just hoped that I wouldn’t. You see, by that time my now ex was pregnant with our child. It was not planned. In fact, it happened at a time when we were probably on the verge of going our separate ways. My now ex had found out about my relationship with Josie and we’d broken up but for whatever reason we weren’t done with each other. Thus she got pregnant. Anyway, we decided that we wanted to have the baby and we figured we should at least try to do it together, as a couple. Of course, that turned out to be a mistake. In a way, I knew it was mistake from the beginning (I didn’t really love her) but I didn’t feel as if I had much of a choice, and I thought it was the right thing to do. But as it turned out I did hear from Josie again, although she wasn’t the one who made first contact. I had to contact her for a project that I was working on because she had previously worked on it, before moving to California. I sent her an email. It was professional, all business. She replied in kind, answering my questions. But later she sent another email, a casual one, which essentially left the door open for some kind of friendship. I never responded, because I didn’t feel as if I could, because I knew my now ex would not have approved, would have in fact been pretty pissed. So I just let it go. Josie never sent another email. Because of that I thought she might not be very receptive to a message from me now. In fact, it might piss her off. Even so I could not refrain. I had to at least try. So I did. I sent her message via Facebook, hoping she would friend me. And then I waited.

I’ve done other things in my life because of John Cusack. Well, because of his movies anyway. For example, because of his portrayal of Lloyd Dobbler in “Say Anything” I was, in high school, inspired to stand outside of Debbie Kanacki’s house with a boom box blaring a love song in hopes of winning her heart. I did not; she was mortified and her old man threatened to kick my ass. But that didn’t discourage me from dressing like Martin Blank from Grosse Point Blank – black suite, white shirt, thin black tie – for my ten-year class reunion and telling people that I made my living as an assassin for hire. Some people found it mildly amusing, most didn’t get it, though. I’m not sure why exactly but for some reason I identify with John Cusack. I think of him as my famous doppelganger. We’re approximately the same age and sort of look alike, or so I’ve been told. If a movie was every made of my life, I’d want John Cusack to play me. And I’d want Diane Lane to play the love interest, like in “Must Love Dogs,” because she is a “…rare constellation of attributes.”

When, after a couple of weeks, I didn’t hear from Josie, I figured she just wasn’t interested in communicating with me and I gave up hope of ever hearing from her again. That was that. I’d tried and failed, which was starting to feel like the story of my life. But as soon as I resigned myself she responded. And she was actually glad to hear from me. I was over the moon, filled with a sense of possibility that I assumed had escaped me for good. However, my excitement was soon deflated when I learned that she was married and had a child. That was disappointing, to say the least.

So there was no chance of rekindling any flame that had once existed between us. Fine. That didn’t meant I that I didn’t still want to talk to her. I did. I hoped that by talking to Josie I could gain some perspective on my current circumstances. Also, I was eager to hear Josie’s take on our relationship back then, what it meant to her, because I was sure that she had felt it was special, short-lived perhaps but intense and real. I wanted to be reassured at least that we could have been together had our situations been different.

Unfortunately, Josie was reluctant to discuss such things. She was glad to hear from me and sorry that my marriage had not worked out but she wasn’t really interested in rehashing the past. I told her that I understood, even though secretly I was crushed and wanted to beg her to please reconsider. I did not, though. I swallowed any such impulse.

My restraint was rewarded, however, when a few days after our initial email exchange Josie contacted me and for whatever reason was willing to talk about our past but only under the condition that we talk about it once and only once and then never again. From then on we could be email friends and discuss books or movies or whatever but never again our romantic past. I agreed.

I wanted to know how she remembered our relationship. I wanted to know if it jived with how I remembered it. She said she recalled it as being fun and interesting, that she’d found me smart and funny and enjoyed hanging out with me and talking. I was encouraged because what she said matched my memory of things, generally. But then she said something that profoundly disappointed me. She said that ultimately she hadn’t taken the relationship seriously, that she considered it just a casual fling. In part, because she was moving on and she hadn’t wanted to get to deeply involved with anyone, but also – and this is what really bothered me – that she didn’t consider me to be the kind of guy to get seriously involved with anyway, because, she said, I struck her as the kind of guy that was only interested in sleeping with a lot of different women. She said that wasn’t a judgment on me, just an observation. Even so I couldn’t help feeling hurt. I wasn’t mad at Josie, she was just telling me the truth. But it did make me sad. I was glad that we were not discussing this matter in person, and that she could not witness my dejected reaction.

Despite that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what she remembered specifically?

What did I mean by specifically?
I didn’t want to lead her in anyway. I wanted her to remember things on her own and my hope was that what she remembered is what I remembered. But clearly she needed a little direction. So I said, Like the day we spent in Arbor. Do you remember that?

Of course, I remember that day. Quite fondly in fact.

Yes. But what do you remember about it?

Well, I remember you coming over to my apartment. And we went and had lunch at that thai restaurant. I remember walking around downtown Ann Arbor holding hands and spending several hours in Borders bookstore. Mostly what I remember though was going out to dinner with my sister and her husband. I remember how proud I felt because I was with this smart, funny, good-looking guy. And I remember later that night back at my apartment giving you really great head.

I of course remembered that too. How could I forget? It was the best blow job I’d ever gotten, before or since. When I came in her mouth I felt as if I was sinking into the floor and out of my physical body. It was amazing, almost transcendent. And I remembered everything she detailed, but there were other things that I remembered that she didn’t mention. Maybe she’d forgotten them or maybe she just didn’t bother to mention them, didn’t consider them important. Maybe she just wanted to get through this exercise and be done with it.

That night in Ann Arbor, I was supposed to be spending the night with my college friend, whose apartment was in Ypsilanti, but instead I drove into Ann Arbor to meet Josie. (This was before my now ex found out about my involvement with Josie.) I went to her apartment. We fooled around in her bed, making out and getting naked. We didn’t have sex. We did everything but. Afterwards, we lay holding each other and I distinctly remember her saying to me, “I’ve got you, I’ve really go you, don’t I.” I didn’t say anything. I just nodded, because I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by that, but it seemed significant, genuine and true. I’d wanted her to remember that detail specifically, but she hadn’t.

I also wanted her to remember her saying to me – not that night, but another time – that she wanted to have six babies with me. I know, it sounds crazy, but I’m sure she said it. Maybe it was just a wild notion that popped into her head. Maybe she didn’t realize what she was saying it at the time, or didn’t recall saying it now. But I do remember her saying it, because is scared the crap out me, and yet it pleased me a great deal. I wanted the same thing, I just didn’t know that I’d wanted it.

And the other thing I remember was her suggesting that I come to California with her. I actually asked Josie if she recalled saying that, but she didn’t. I believe that just she didn’t remember saying it, but that she actually did say it, I know that she did. Maybe she was the kind of person who just said things carelessly and so forgot about them later.

My romantic construct of my relationship with Josie was slowly eroding. And I didn’t like it. But what could I do. I wanted the truth, as much as that was possible. And I was getting it.

I told Josie that I wished that we’d had sex just once before she’d left, but she was glad that we hadn’t, she thought it was better that way. I disagreed. Maybe it was just one of those things that men and women differ on, fundamentally.

The first time I saw the John Cusack movie “Serendipity” – not in the theater, on cable, late at night while my now ex was fast asleep in our bed – I found myself thinking of Josie. I hadn’t thought of her in years but suddenly there she was in my head again. It was intoxicating, just as our relationship had been. Just like the relationship between John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in the movie. In the movie the two characters meet serendipitously (thus the title) one night and fall instantly in love but since both are with other people they part, casting their faith in the belief that if they are meant to be together they will somehow meet up again one day. Maybe it’s not a spectacular movie but I was really hooked into it and in the end when the two get together I cried, silently, bitterly. I slept alone on the couch that night.

For a time Josie and I maintained a convivial correspondence, mainly through emailing but every once in awhile we’d chat online. I was enjoying our renewed relationship, such as it was, just having her to talk to was…rejuvenating.  And then out of nowhere Josie asked me if I wanted to meet for a drink. She was going to be in town for business. Of course, I jumped at the offer.

I couldn’t wait to see her. I felt that same giddy excitement that I felt when I first met her. I tried to tell myself that we were meeting as just friends, that this was not some romantic tete-a-tete, because Josie was a married woman with a child, but at the same time I couldn’t help wondering if there might be something more to our get together than just two people having a friendly drink. Maybe there was something specific that Josie wanted – no, needed to tell me face-to-face, something very important.

I arrived at the bar early and grabbed a table. I didn’t want us to have to sit at the bar. I wanted to be able to look at her, right into her eyes when we talked. I wanted to feel that spark, that soulful connection that I remembered.

When she didn’t arrive at the time we’d agreed to meet I didn’t think anything of it. She said she might be running late, because she had a long busy day at work. But then fifteen minutes passed and then a half hour. And then past a point that was reasonable. I wondered if something had happened, something bad. Like a car accident. Because if she was hung up at work wouldn’t she have called? I checked my cell phone even though I knew it was pointless. I would have felt the vibration. Maybe she’d texted me. But no, nothing.

I had another drink and waited.

I don’t know why I didn’t just call her. I mean, I was entitled to know why she was late, wasn’t I? But for some reason I couldn’t make myself dial her number. I guess because I knew what she would say, that she wasn’t coming. This way there was still a chance that she might show up. There was still hope.

I can imagine her entrance, like something out of a movie.

Tracing the grain of the wood table top with my finger, I look up just as she enters. She’s dressed in business attire, a dark skirt and white blouse, but she’s let her strawberry blonde hair down, probably undid it out in the car before coming inside, running her hands through the silky mass several times while checking  her look in the rearview mirror of her rental car. She smiles when our eyes meet, a little coyly, blushing slightly. The world seems to stop as she crosses the room, all eyes focused on her. Finally, she reaches the table and slides into the chair across from me. She beams beautifully at me. And I know that I’ve got her, I’ve really got her.

But of course that didn’t happen. Life isn’t like a movie. I just want it to be.

The ice melts in my glass.

GenX’s midlife crisis in books and movies

JenX67 linked to this NY Times article titled — GenX Has a Midlife Crisis.

It’s actually a review of the new novel by Sam Lypsite, The Ask.  But it also references the Ben Stiller movie, Greenberg, and the John Cusack movie Hot Tub Time Machine.

I’ve read The Ask (well, most of  it; for some reason I couldn’t seem to finish it, not sure why,  I love Lypsite’s stuff) and seen Greenberg. I’ve yet to see Hot Tub but from what I’ve read/heard, like The Ask and Greenberg, there will be much for me to relate to.  How could I not? I’m 42 ,in the midst of divorce, and living with the rents…again. I got mid-life crisis coming out my ass, man!

As does Milo, the protagonist of The Ask:

Milo is in his early 40s, or so one surmises from his pop-cultural references and from the fact that the author, Sam Lipsyte, was born in 1968. He’s not a kid anymore: he’s a man of a certain age. And “The Ask” is, at least so far, the definitive literary treatment of a hugely important social phenomenon. Mr. Lipsyte, through the shambling, highly articulate and pathetic persona of Milo Burke, has announced the onset of the Generation X midlife crisis.

I feel as if I could insert my name for Milo’s and it would make complete sense. I was born in 67.

The articles references to Greenberg and Hot Tub are in comparison to The  Big Chill, the Boomers mid-life crisis movie, one which I can never decide if I like really because it can be so fucking irritating. The author states that Hot Tub is — not a better movie necessarily, but rather preferable.

The raunchy riffs and lowbrow gags of “Hot Tub” are vastly preferable to the navel-gazing sanctimony of “The Big Chill,” at least for my taste. But my taste may be suspect in this matter, since, give or take a few details, “Hot Tub Time Machine” is the story of my life.

No doubt that author’s going to hear about it for that one. Note the apologetic tone in which he presents his case, qualifying his preference, obviously anticipating the Boomer outrage at such a ludicrous notion.

The article makes a good point when it states: “How can a generation whose cultural trademark is a refusal to grow up have a midlife crisis?”

I can’t help feeling that I’ve plagued myself with this….GenX (male mainly I think) syndrome of refusing in many respects to grow up. Although I don’t believe it is an epidemic. I know too many people my age that are mature and responsible. I’m just not really one of them. I’ve always gone kicking and screaming into adulthood, I admit it. Why? Because from where I was sitting it just didn’t look all that great to me.

Th article goes on to point out that of course this midlife crisis thing is nothing new, it’s just that different generations went about it in different ways.

Members of the Greatest Generation and the one that came right after — the “Mad Men” guys, their wives and secretaries — settled down young into a world where the parameters of career and domesticity seemed fixed, and then proceeded, by the force of their own restlessness, to blow it all up.

This pattern repeated itself in the next decades, yielding variations on a story everyone seems to know. At a certain point, Dad buys a sports car, or starts a rock band, or has an affair or walks out on Mom or quits the law firm to make goat cheese. When this kind of thing happens to Mom, it’s not a crisis but an awakening. In any case, the driving impulse is to shake off the straitjacket of adulthood and find some way to feel young again.

And then goes on to ask the ironic (that’s right I used the word) question: “But what if you never gave up adolescence in the first place?”

How does a midlife crisis work exactly then? Well, that’s precisely what the characters in The Ask, Greenberg, and Hot Tub are portraying.

They all seem stuck in an earlier phase of life, which wasn’t so great to begin with: Milo’s dorm room bull sessions and sexual escapades; Roger’s rock ’n’ roll dreams; that crazy time at the ski lodge with snow, cocaine, sex and spandex as far as the eye could see.

And the resulting revelation is fairly brutal, as illustrated in The Ask:

“If I were the protagonist of a book or a movie,” Milo says to his onetime boss, “it would be hard to like me, to identify with me, to like me, right?” The response is devastating: “I would never read a book like that, Milo, and I can’t think of anyone who would. There’s no reason for it.”

It’s an assessment that is difficult to argue with when you consider the following:

A lot of people seem to feel that way about “Greenberg,” which has done modest business and inspired a great deal of ambivalence among audiences. “Funny People” was a big flop, and “Hot Tub Time Machine” has not done nearly as well as “The Hangover,” which offers up coarse humor and male immaturity without the slightest attempt at historical perspective. Since its publication in March, “The Ask” has sold around 7,000 copies. Disappointing? Of course. Our generation wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which I guess means I should got ahead and scrap my idea of my own GenX midlife crisis novel. Because who wants to read the crap, anyway. But  you know, just because most people don’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. That’s like saying if you’re not popular in high school, you’re nobody…

Think about it….

….no you won’t.

Better Off Dead

Just added the movie Better Off Dead to my DVD library.

Category: 80s Teen Angst

Subgenre: John Cusack

I remember catching I didn’t catch this movie at the theater but on cable, although where exactly I have not a clue. But I loved it. Because it was so different. I mean, a teen movie about suicide. Only Cusack would have attempted that. And he pulls it off masterfully.

Plus it’s got those cool claymation interludes. And an appearance by the scary guy from the Porky’s movies, which was written and directed by Bob Clark, the guy who directed A Christmas Story, which of course made Peter Billingsley forever famous as the round-faced  kid with glasses kid with a chubby for a Red Rider BB gun. Billingsley did some stuff post-A Christmas Story and finally came full circle when he played an actual elf in the Will Farrell vehicle, Elf. Since then he’s been executive producer on Iron Man and Four Christmases, and he directed Couples Retreat, which I heard wasn’t very good but still, at least he managed to stay out of the porn industry, which is more than you can say for his A Christmas Story co-star, Scott Schwartz, who got side-tracked into skin flick for a time, which sure was probably fun for a time but didn’t do much for his legit career. But apparently a Hollywood career is not dead until the actor is because recently Schwartz has been doing some stuff, small parts in small films.

Do you ever wonder if actors, when the make a comeback or return to the biz or whatever, get calls from actors they’d been in movies with a long time ago? Like do you think the guy that played Englberg or Rudy Stein in the original Bad News Bears movies has been trying to get in touch with Jack Earle Haley, who played Kelly Leak? Because the guy went from being like lost in Hollywood Siberia or someplace like that to Academy Awardy nominee. I mean, come on. Would you try to get in touch. I would. But then I have no shame. Sad but true.

Anyhoo… I haven’t yet had a chance to re-watched Better Off Dead. Thought I’d give it a run while on the tread mill but it will not play on our small DVD player. But I’ve got it on the shelf and that’s what matters, right.

Just walk away…

One of the other movies that I watched this past weekend was Grosse Pointe Blank, perhaps my favorite Gen X movie of all time. I know some people get a confused look on their face when I dubbed it a GenX movie, but I think I can give a plethora of reason to support this claim. I’m not going to right now, but trust me, the movie drips with Xer ethos, and not just because it stars John Cusack, who is about as GenX as they come.

Anyhoo… I was watching it again tonight. And I started thinking about this idea of walking away from one’s life, just up and going, disappearing without a word, which is the main character, Martin Blank did ten years previous to the current action of the movie. I’m wondering if there is something particularly Generation X about this notion or impulse or even the thought of it?

A more recent novel by Dan Chaon entitled Await Your Reply, explores this very idea. Check the amazon description of the novel:

Longing to get on with his life, Miles Cheshire nevertheless can’t stop searching for his troubled twin brother, Hayden, who has been missing for ten years. Hayden has covered his tracks skillfully, moving stealthily from place to place, managing along the way to hold down various jobs and seem, to the people he meets, entirely normal. But some version of the truth is always concealed.

A few days after graduating from high school, Lucy Lattimore sneaks away from the small town of Pompey, Ohio, with her charismatic former history teacher. They arrive in Nebraska, in the middle of nowhere, at a long-deserted motel next to a dried-up reservoir, to figure out the next move on their path to a new life. But soon Lucy begins to feel quietly uneasy.

My whole life is a lie, thinks Ryan Schuyler, who has recently learned some shocking news. In response, he walks off the Northwestern University campus, hops on a bus, and breaks loose from his existence, which suddenly seems abstract and tenuous. Presumed dead, Ryan decides to remake himself–through unconventional and precarious means.

My guess is Mr. Chaon does not think of himself as a Generation X writer. But he was born in 1964. And I think if you examine his other works, short stories and a previous novel, you could make a reasonable argument for him qualifying as a GenX author. Anyway, that’s my take on it. Although it wasn’t initially. Not until I watched Grosse Pointe Blank again. And recalling coming across Joshua Ferris’ new novel on amazon — The Unnamed. Check out the descrip of this new novel:

Tim Farnsworth is a handsome, healthy man, aging with the grace of a matinee idol. His wife Jane still loves him, and for all its quiet trials, their marriage is still stronger than most. Despite long hours at the office, he remains passionate about his work, and his partnership at a prestigious Manhattan law firm means that the work he does is important. And, even as his daughter Becka retreats behind her guitar, her dreadlocks and her puppy fat, he offers her every one of a father’s honest lies about her being the most beautiful girl in the world.

He loves his wife, his family, his work, his home. He loves his kitchen. And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.

In addition to that, I thought about a stories that I’ve heard about people, GenXers, who just up and walked away from their lives one day. Not necessarily disappearing, but still walking away.

I considered too that this has been a recurring theme in my own writing, characters that just walk away suddenly and disappear. I never thought much about it until now. Why does t his interest me? Is there something it beyond my own fascination?

And so I’m wondering if this is a GenX thing, for lack of a better description. is this a commonly held experience or idea or hidden impulse within Generation X? Or am I just imaging things, as I am want to do from time to time? I don’t know. You tell me.

Cool web site

A friend hipped me to this web site, that details actors that were either turned down for or turned down themselves roles in different movies. You know, like how John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender in The Breakfast Club only to be dumped by John Hughes for Judd Nelson, who was good and all in the role but of course has since pretty much flamed out, although I suppose Suddenly Susan was a relative hit until the one dude committed suicide. Didn’t that pretty  much kill it? Anyhoo, my point is. Cusack’s got the more impressive career to date.

This web site, not staring, could become a new regular for me, right up there with imbd, wikipedia, etc.