Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lessons from the Driver's Seat

A story in exactly 1,000 words.

Lessons from the Driver's Seat

We’re in the car and she’s not talking, even though I can see through cloudy eyes a mind that’s working faster than I could ever think. She’s looking out the window, but only to avoid looking at me. I know there’s nothing worthwhile to look at in this town.

“I love you,” I say, and I say it softly, but it feels like I’m screaming because I know that she can’t hear me. She’s in her different world, where they speak a language no one knows. 

But I say it just to say it as we drive down empty streets. She’s quiet for the rest of the night and this is the moment I realize I may never be able to save her.

We’re in the car and she’s crying.

I listen to her speak, but I’m not really listening, because my mind shuts down when she cries. I cannot hear her saying my name, I cannot hear her asking for my help. All I hear is her whimpers, her sobs, and it’s more deafening than her silence.

I’m in love with a tragedy and it’s the most helpless I’ve ever felt. 

We’re in the car in the daylight, eating ice cream and driving aimlessly, looking for trouble.

I look at her and see nothing else. Only her, a wandering gaze, and the endless view with its endless possibilities behind her through the window. I can still find beauty in the story buried in her sadness. 

We’re in the car and I realize that I don’t know how to make her happy. 

I know how to make her sad until she looks down at her lap and cries. I know how to make her angry until she screams, not with her mouth, but with silence. I know how to make her satisfied enough to be quiet, contemplative, and sleepy-eyed. But I do not know enough to make her happy.

I realize that I don’t think I have ever even tried.

We’re in the car. I’m driving too fast, and then too slow. She is talking too fast, and then too soft, using fighting words. She turns into a whirlwind when she’s mad, and her anger flies so quickly past my face that I blink and I’m standing in rubble.

She opens the door and leaps onto the sidewalk before I can even register the sound of a car door slamming shut.

“Get back in the car, baby,” I beg as she gets back up, brushing off skinned knees. She marches away, the most hard-headed soldier. I follow her at snail’s pace anyway, only to make sure she walks the half-mile back to her house safely, before I drive away alone.

We’re in the car and it’s a rare day. She is reaching over the center console to hold my hand. She is leaning over to kiss my cheek at red lights. She is turning to look and smile at me, instead of getting lost star-gazing in the bleak view outside.

I should be happy, ecstatic, to see a glimpse of the girl I haven’t seen in so long, hidden behind a stubborn cage. But instead I am sad, confused, and angry that I do not know how to make her this way— happy.

I say something that I do not mean, and the smile slips away as slowly as it came. She looks away again, and it’s so quiet that I turn the radio on to a station I hate.

We’re in the car and she’s barely even breathing. I would rather she cry. I would rather she scream. 

“I’m sorry,” I tell her. She fidgets with the bracelet I got her for last year’s birthday. 

“It was a mistake,” I tell her.

She sighs in defeat. I can see nothing behind her opaque eyes, and I don’t stand tall enough to peek over the walls. “Take me home, please,” she says. So I do.

We’re in the car and her favorite song comes on from a mix CD she made me a long time ago.

“I miss you,” she admits. 

“I’m right here,” I tell her, but she shakes her head. 

“You don’t understand,” she says, and she’s right. I don’t. But I can try harder.

We’re in the car and a song I kind of know starts playing on the radio. I sing along and mess up the lyrics so bad that she laughs out loud, so giggly that I start laughing too.

I look at her, and she looks at me. She doesn’t say it out loud, but I hear her “I love you”, loud and clear.

We’re in the car and it’s been a long day for the both of us.

She looks down at her lap, and I can feel it coming. Her trembling hands, her sped-up breathing.  I know what’s coming. It starts raining outside, like God knows what’s coming too. A single tear slides down her face and splashes onto her skirt.

I do not keep driving. I slow down. I stop the car, unbuckle my seatbelt, reach over and hold her as she begins to cry.

We’re in the car and it’s a three-hour drive to the ocean. The window is rolled all the way down, and the wind mutes the playlist I spent days on to get just right. 

It doesn’t bother me, though, because she turns and smiles, and it’s like the first hint of sunshine after a winter-long storm. She mouths along with the wrong words to songs she barely knows. Her hair is all over the place, a tornado around her face. I can smell the beginning of a salty beach spring. It’s going to be alright.

We’re in the car and we both know better now. 

She finds a place to park under a shady tree. I pause for a second. We look at each other, and she leans over to kiss me gently.

We get out of the car.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Vicious Circus

I used to be kind of a movie nerd.

I want to say film nerd, but the truth is that I like John Hughes and raunchy comedies too much to bestow upon myself such a hipster title. I mean, I cite Clueless as one of my top five favorite movies of all time. And I'm pretty much a nerd about anything that I like to obsession, whether it's books or Childish Gambino or cameras. 

So, yeah. I used to be kind of a movie nerd, and I would really make the most out of the $8 a month I spend on my Netflix subscription. Lately, like most things, I haven't been indulging in this little pleasure. The last actual film I watched was probably Boyhood when it first came out at the beginning of last summer, and the last movie I watched was, I think, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One. Which, as entertaining Jennifer Lawrence is, wasn't exactly essay-worthy.

But I used to love watching those weird hipster indie films, the ones that weren't necessarily about the story as much as they were about the beauty of composition and style. Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors, and I know I sound like a cliche but you really can't say shit because if you like composition and style in your movies then he's probably one of yours too. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my favorite movies (I value it over Clueless, just saying) and just typing that makes me want to rewatch all his other movies with my fingers hovering over the screenshot button and then write an essay about it. Seriously. I'm that much of a nerd. I could write essays about movies with pictures to accompany it all day and I'm pathetic. This is all just a pointless intro and I really did not mean for it to get this long.

My point is, I have a weakness for beautiful movies and recommending things. So, tonight, I watched a movie called White Bird in a Blizzard, directed by Gregg Araki (of Mysterious Skin fame) and starring Shailene Woodley.

If you've maybe kind of paid attention to my ramblings, then it's a known fact that Shailene Woodley is one of my favorite actresses. She's really good at playing a moody angsty teenage daughter, which means she is like looking in a mirror that shows a taller, whiter, infinitely more gorgeous version of myself. I don't think I've seen her play anything else other than this archetype, so I can't attest much to her other talents, but The Spectacular Now and The Descendants are also some of my favorite movies and she played fantastically relatable teen girls. She is also very good at crying on command. If there was an Oscar for crying, Shailene, and I had any say in it, I would give it to you. A+.

Anyway, White Bird is based on a book of the same name that is never available in any of the bookstores I've looked in, which frustrates me to no end because I have a stubborn aversion to Kindles. That's beside the point. Sorry.

But it is about seventeen year old Kat Connors, whose mother disappears without a trace one day during her senior year of high school. She brushes off the loss with a tough facade, but keeps having strange dreams and doubts about her mother's disappearance. 

This movie sat in my Netflix queue (such a funny word) for a while. I planned on reading the book first (I know, nerd) but since I couldn't find a copy, I sucked it up and watched it. I came into it knowing about a few bad reviews and thinking it would be creepy and suspenseful, more of a murder mystery. But it wasn't, and I think that's why it got such bad reviews. The movie is not about Kat's mother's disappearance. It's about Kat, and coming of age in a shithole town, with things like her deadbeat boyfriend and teenage antics and mother's disappearance as the factors that affect her adolescence. 

The truth is, the plot wasn't great. I predicted the ending within the first half hour and even with knowing that the movie is more coming-of-age than murder mystery, the whole teenage girl blooming into a woman thing isn't exactly an original tale. I liked it, and all, but it wasn't what I wanted to gush about.

What I loved about this movie was how freaking gorgeous it was. If you love Wes Anderson as much as I do, you will probably also enjoy this movie. I love balance and perfect composition in my frames. Composition is really the key to a good photograph. I loved the patterns in position. The shots of Kat in the middle with bleak backgrounds, the balance between a man on one side of the screen and a woman on the other, whether it was Phil, Kat's ex-boyfriend, and Kat's Mom or Kat and her dad, to show the face-off and challenge, even the simple fact that Beth, Kat's best friend, was always positioned in the middle with Kat and their other friend on each side. I absolutely loved it and couldn't stop admiring the screenshots I took. Here are some of my favorites:

I also have a weakness for great typography in movies.

Note Kat alone with a bleak background, and the others following.

Also note, Mickey and Kat are always on either side of Beth. Which really doesn't mean anything, but I just love consistency.


Note man and woman facing off on either side of the screen.

These snowy dream sequences were just gorgeous. One of my favorite parts throughout.

What did I say about her being a great crier?

I think this is kind of important too- in one of the closing scenes, conflicting man and woman aren't on opposite sides but very close together in the middle.

Doesn't it look so beautiful? They make such pretty photographs. I'm a sucker for nerdy photography things, like rule of thirds and the golden compass. I think the director really framed these shots carefully and wonderfully. I want to get my hands on Mysterious Skin now, with the hopes that it will be as pretty as this movie.

Something else that I loved was the soundtrack and the outfits. It really made me nostalgic for my jaded grungey Violet Harmon phase, when I loved classic rock from the 60's all the way to the 90's. There was lots of great 80's music, including Cocteau Twins and The Cure and Tears for Fears. And the clothes were prime; I took a few screenshots of those too:

Depeche Mode shirt. That's all.

I'm also gonna buy an oversized denim jacket and stud it because fuck that's dope.

Also, Gabourey Sidibe makes a great punk.

This only reinforces my desire for Docs.

High waisted pants are my weakness.

In all, I really think this was a great movie. The plot was so-so and the main characters were very unlikeable to me. In fact, Shailene Woodley's character is a huge brat and while she'd probably be a cool friend, I'd disappear too if I were her mother. Maybe this is another case of the book was better syndrome, and words didn't translate much to script. But what it lacks on story it makes up for in beauty. This was a very stylish film, whether it was composition wise or costume wise. I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of pretty films and Wes Anderson. Not bad at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Only One

In the history of my short, boring life, there have been better days. It's kinda just hard to like the things I like. Writing, taking pictures, just leaving my bed is hard to swallow and enjoy the way I used to. But I tried a little and I guess it counts for a little bit. I'd like to go on a long road trip someday and go somewhere beautiful.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

When the high hits you

This is meant to accompany something I wrote previously called The Come Down. Feel free to listen to this if you read, this was my playlist as I spent way too much time trying to write this. This is very loosely semi-based on the true story of my intensely shitty senior year of high school but it's also obviously not and I'm pretty much just hella weird. This also counts as my love letter to Los Angeles, one of my favorite cities on Earth. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I just feel alone all the time, now more than ever, and it's not gonna end for a long time. I just wish I had some friends around here, someone I could stay up talking to and watch movies with and fall asleep on their floor like in Santa Barbara. That's all. And that I'm gonna miss the sunset.