How Arcade Fire and Six Feet Under changed EVERYTHING

My first short film was a disaster. A complete and utter fucking disaster. The experience scared the shit out of me and changed the entire course of my filmic career at The University of Iowa. My first short film, Songs About Lying, which was also a short story I wrote for a fiction class (I believe in making the most of every idea I can) was partially inspired by Arcade Fire, and the use of Rebellion (Lies) in an episode of Six Feet Under.

As a twenty six year old in a long term relationship that hadn’t faced any real life changes, my first semester at the University of Iowa, incidentally my first semester taking the film courses I’d dreamed about for years, coupled with a new city, new house, and my boyfriend’s unemployment and frustration, was extremely difficult. I spent the first semester with a horrid, gnawing feeling that I’d made a terrible mistake. I felt old and in the way, embarrassed that I’d never used FCP or owned a real camera. Lacking the resources, I’d never made a film, only dreamt about them. And I was surrounded by eighteen year olds who’d sprung forth from their mothers’ wombs with a camera in one hand and editing software in the other. I had to work as many hours as I could at my soul sucking corporate restaurant to try and stay afloat financially (I barely made it- that is if you consider thousands of dollars in debt a success). Because of this I spent every single weekend or day/night I didn’t have class or a screening at work. I wasn’t able to mingle, I didn’t get to go to the special events I wanted to, and I never had enough time to study. I was worried all the time- about school, money, my relationship, everything.

The summer we moved to Iowa City I drove back to Clear Lake every week to work at Applebee’s in Mason City, while I tried to find a new job in my new town. My boyfriend seemed content to dink around and enjoy his unemployment; he took his time in searching for a job, confident that his experience would net him a job right away. It didn’t. By the time my boyfriend started hitting the pavement looking for anything that would pay the bills it was too late; my dream of only working once a week or not at all had come to a soul crushing halt and I watched in despair as our debt grew, along with my waistline, and my hopes faded. Looking back, I’m not really sure how I made it through, but I did. During my bi-weekly commute from Clear Lake to Iowa City/Iowa City to Clear Lake, I did the only thing I could- listen to Arcade Fire and dream about stories and characters. That was the summer that Arcade Fire almost eclipsed The Strokes, specifically Is This It, in sheer volume of listenings.

I became obsessed with a story about a man who fell in love with a girl, the wrong girl, over a letter. It was inspired by true events sans any romantic tinges, except between the two others involved, and I clung to this idea, eventually turning it into a short story for a fiction class I had. I was fascinated, veering on the edge of obsessed, with the idea of loving the wrong person. It wasn’t that I felt that I was or that I didn’t love my boyfriend, but because every moment I’d experienced of a filmic love/like/possibility/connection never panned out. There was the first boy I ever met who liked The Strokes (that was a huge deal) with whom I walked around Clear Lake with and who had an uncanny timing of calling me at the perfect movie moment time; the boy who looked like John Cusack whom I’d had a crush on forever and may have been the sweetest kisser I’ve ever met; the boy with the crazy triceps tattoos and the love of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind who was the best kisser I’d ever met; or my drinking buddy ____ who I found out was married weeks/months after he’d first sat at my bar and went through my CD collection praising my Elliott Smith CDs and with whom I never did anything with besides drink and then drunkenly spill confessions with every time we were in the same zip-code. We hung out a lot and if he had been younger and single, or I had been older and a whore, maybe things would’ve been different. Instead we had a connection through music, and a friendship that lasted several years despite my telling him I wasn’t that type of girl one fateful night over 40s in his hotel room. The closest we ever came to romance was dancing together to Dark of the Matinee at a Franz Ferdinand concert.  I think that was the last time I saw him.

Instead I was faced with the realities of an adult relationship- filled with joys and disappointments, and compromises I’d never pictured at the tender age of twenty-one. I’d pictured a wild passionate romance from the movies with a dark hipster boy in a leather jacket ala Julian Casablancas. Instead I fell in love with a man who hated The Strokes, and loved Bob Marley and Phish, and wouldn’t wear a pair of tattered converse if his life depended on it. But he loved jazz too, and that’s why I feel in love with him. It wasn’t like the movies, not at all. If my life had been like a movie, then any of the aforementioned boys (only two of which I’d ever had any physically romantic interaction) would have been the love of my life in an end all, be all way. But as that hadn’t happened, I found myself drawn to more realistic and heartbreaking portrayals of love onscreen.

I am the same age as the character of Claire Fisher. I didn’t start watching Six Feet Under until after the show had ended, so I was able to watch the entires series in a matter of weeks thanks to marathon episode watching courtesy of Netflix. It wasn’t until the last few seasons that I began to identify with Claire- although her character was born in 1983 and I in 1984, we had been out of sync because I hadn’t watched it when it was still on the air. I’d also been given a burned copy of Arcade Fire’s Funeral years earlier, but much to my later chagrin, I never bothered to listen to it, instead I lost it amongst the shuffle. I had finally purchased Funeral a few months earlier because of the Where the Wild Things Are trailer and my guilt in never having actually listened to it or the hype, because it was obviously my thing. I would ride my bike through the aboretum behind my house and listen to Wake Up I didn’t give a shit about anything else. I was horrified months later when I was watching Six Feet Under and I Shazam-ed a song used during Claire and Billy’s breakup only to find it was Rebellion, track number nine on Funeral. The song summed up everything I felt, and the show summed up everything I feared. I still didn’t learn my lesson though, only adding a second song to my Arcade Fire repertoire. It would be another year before my bi-weekly three hour drives filled with dreams, characters, love and loss, and Arcade Fire.

Whenever I thought about film, I’d always thought about narrative, never anything else. So naturally, when it came time to make my first short film, I decided on a short narrative, filled with love, loss, and the unfulfilled desire that always accompanies it. It was influenced by a lot of things- conversations, people, but it was directly influenced by Rebellion and the feeling Six Feet Under and Claire produced. The film was titled Songs About Lying and all these uber important songs/emotions were included. The film was absolute shit.

I partnered with a friend, and although we got along marvelously in other ways, we didn’t share the same vision and the film suffered. I lacked the confidence to take charge and make the film I wanted, instead I shrank into the background and felt embarrassed, wishing for a black hole to swallow me and my shitty film up. I don’t even have a copy of it, and I’m grateful for that, I don’t know if I’d be able to withstand the pain of seeing it again. The saddest thing of all is that all the parts are there- I can feel it in my bones that it could’ve and should’ve worked had I been a better director. And that knowledge is heartbreaking.

My short film made its way into short story form for the same class as did my story about the man in love with the wrong girl; it fared better there despite the vicious workshopping it and everyone else’s stories received. I felt like a failure. I got an okay grade on the film, and considering that I felt completely lost and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, including my lack of even rudimentary FCP skills (I later learned FCP on my own, through hours alone in an editing room with the FCP handbook in my lap and no other choice, until my amazing Advanced 16mm TA took the time to teach me tricks and shortcuts I never knew existed) I was okay with it. Yet, I approached my upcoming production class with utter trepidation, convinced I would fail miserably. Not wanting to make the same mistake, I turned to personal documentary for my following student films, and I’m fiercely proud of them. The last two films I made were wildly successful compared to my first, and I received such genuine support, praise, and encouragement from two of my teachers, Craig Webster, and especially Chris Renaud, that it changed my filmic life. I discovered ideas and emotions I never knew I wanted to explore. And from there I gained my confidence. Yes, I’m still racked with overwhelming self doubt and probably always will be; but I’ve learned, well honestly, I don’t know what I’ve learned, but I’m glad that I’ve made the films I have. Maybe that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned- to be proud of my work, not because I finished something, but because I put all of my emotion and fear into making the best films I could, and my effort is reflected. Perhaps if I had tried to salvage my first film and hadn’t washed my hands of it when my original vision was tarnished and ruined, I could have made something I was proud of; I didn’t. What I have learned is that, at least for me, the film I think I’m making is never the film I end up with, (all bets are off in the editing room). Now I know that in the future that’s not the best way to make films, in fact it’s actually quite dangerous, but at least it’s taught me to be flexible, but not a pushover. And one of these days I may be ready to try again- make the film I originally intended; because now, even if I fail, I still know I’m good at something. Even if it’s not what I always pictured.

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The Saddest Thing of All? (the prologue)

The Saddest Thing of All? (the prologue)

This is- I’m not exactly sure what this is.  It is a book, loosely speaking of course, but nevertheless, however oddly written it may be, it’s still something.   Now to be fair to myself, this did not turn out at all like I had planned.  This is a good thing- it’s far more entertaining and interesting, but because of this, I am sure you will notice a marked difference in the beginning of the book versus the end.  I will now make a futile attempt to explain why this is.

The only thing I’ve ever been good at, or at the very least kept with, is words.  I’ve always maintained a journal (if you can actually call it that- it was and will continue to be a notebook) for longer than I’ve ever maintained doing anything else.  I’m also very opinionated, although I don’t always necessarily share all of my views.  This, I thought, was the perfect stepping stone for all things great to come.  I’ve never had the patience or ambition to actually finish anything in my life- I lose interest halfway through.  For example there was the handwriting analysis, and when I wanted to be a photographer, but I’d never have the patience to learn how to develop film, and now that it’s all gone digital it’s lost some of it’s mystique so… you get the point.  Writing was the only logical solution.  Writing was my only constant- the only thing I had (somewhat) regularly kept with.  Flirtations had come and gone, but through it all I had still written.  Not always with the same consistency of course, but at least with some sort of regularity.  This was to be my stepping stone, my gateway to whatever was to come my way, great and small.

I decided I would write a book of my beliefs on rock music.  Simple as that.  I wanted my brother Shannon to write a few excerpts as well.  The book would be called The Quest to Rock and the Art of Rocking.  That went to shit.  Although I never pretended to be an expert on anything, and I often ended up saying “I could be wrong” or “it’s only something you can feel” etc.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) help but feel I had absolutely no authority to be writing any of the things I was, save for my personal experiences and loves.  So the book was to be a manual, albeit my own fucked up what I thought rock stars should embody manual,  but nevertheless it was something along those lines.  Somewhere along the way it became a confessional.  I’m not exactly sure how or why, but it did.  It became even more of a salvation than before, and I had thought it would be gateway out of this hell hole- my hell hole.  Suddenly I was writing about my fears of everything, including failure.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I was able to purge what needed to be purged, all the while writing about what I love more than anything else: music.

I don’t expect any of you to love this, or even understand this for that matter.  Nor do I expect you to care about my fears, my failures and my perpetually broken heart; I wouldn’t give two shits about me.  Yet, there is always that strange thing we call hope, forever looming in the background.  The lovely, beautiful thing, I, an incurable optimist and a fool as you will soon learn, forever cling to.  And it’s forever a fool’s hope that keeps us going.

-Louisa Maria Montealvo

2:12 am Tuesday morning, September 13th, 2005

*Today, November 12th, 2011

This is the introduction (obviously) to my crazy, weird, fucked up thoughts which were amassed into book/confessional form.

Over the past few days as I’ve procrastinated on projects and instead focused on this past chapter of my life, I’ve discovered that I haven’t changed as much as I thought. True, I’m no longer twenty (or a size two as Weight and Waiting acknowledged) but I still love and obsess like I used to, it’s just that I hide it better.  I still talk to myself, I still live inside my head, I just don’t write about it anymore.  And it’s truly a shame.  So, I’m trying to change this- I feel like a woman possessed, consumed with this burning desire to share and write, like never before.  Maybe living with someone for the past five years has influenced this- I’ve become softer, kinder, and less rigid.  It’s all about compromise, right? Anyway, as much as I know I should be working on other things, somehow this just feels more important.  So I’m gonna go for it.

-Louisa

The confusion of a fleeting youth (rock ’n’ roll as my scapegoat)

*Another chapter of an old book, another glimpse into my mind at the tender age of twenty. (Once again, from Spring 2004ish)

*I’m confused. No, actually confusion is probably too coherent of a state. I’m at that point of being, or consciousness where you don’t know what the fuck you want, who the fuck you want, or if you really want anything at all. You honestly just don’t fucking know. I should probably be used to this, seeing as it’s a most familiar feeling, but it does still get old. Music even starts to become a burden in that nothing feels right. Everything just pisses you off and feels wrong, terribly, horribly wrong. Then a song that’s just so fucking perfect shows up. Of course, three minutes later, it’s gone and the remake by The Lightening Seeds that you own has been missing forever, and you’re back to square one.
Everyone feels like this at some point, at least that is what I tell myself to soften the blow, or rather the sheer indifference. I would rather have someone hate me than have no feelings whatsoever. That doesn’t mean I don’t want them to love me, but I’ll still take hate, because after all you have to love someone to hate ‘em (with a few exceptions). And something’s better than nothing. It’s weird how you reach that crossroads where something’s gotta give or everything’s just gonna blow. (In my case, I chopped off all my hair and started writing profusely. After I went AWOL, took a month and a half sabbatical (from which I’ve since returned) and both fucked up things even more and set them straight. Though give me time and who know what else I’ll do?) Why do we all go through this? Why do we smell stale cigarettes and instantly we’re trying to cling to a past that no longer exists? But more importantly, why do we use music as our scapegoat?

The burdens of our follies as youths (or adults) are placed solely on music. You get told not to sing that one song because it reminds them (him) of (your) past failures. You stop listening to an album that meant so much to you, because it used to, and that time has passed. It’s fucking strange. We’re forever living in the past or constantly looking to and trying to inhabit the future. We never once just live in the present. I’m not talking about living “in the moment” or any other gay ass shit like that, but rather just focusing on how you feel now. Without letting the past or the future influence it. I think the reason music can change your mood so much is that it isn’t changing your mood, rather finally letting you live in that moment. When I’m listening to music, really listening I’m content. I am for once in my life truly happy. So, I have a dream for the future looping through my brain; it doesn’t matter because I’m feeling. I’m connected and I forever feel neglected and alone outside of music. And as long as the song is playing, it’s real. It’s not so much looking to the future but realizing who you are. Who you think you are at that moment (the dream) is who you are. I think who and where you want to be is sometimes more important than the reality, granted you can’t just dream it you gotta live it, but the first step to achieving your goal is dreaming it. Envision. No, you cannot live in a dream world, but I do wonder how real your reality is.

With music, allowing myself to dream lets me focus on how I’m really feeling. And hopefully I can work through it and move on. Because, I’m not stupid, I know the way things are, and the way they ought to be, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that I don’t want to change them. So music is my consolation, well that and my mantra of: “if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen” etc. (I’ve got a lot of mantras…well, not really, but um, yeah.) Music feels and breathes this. Even though my mind may drift, and it always does, it’s pretty much the only time my heart doesn’t. So if music can and does do all this, why do we take our pain, anger and all that other shit out on it?

The world comes down to two types of people: the people who get dicked around and the people who do the dicking. The balance can shift, but ultimately it stays the same. But every person is capable of strong-arming another. This is what we do with music. Those who regard music as simply background noise will stop listening to something merely because of the music’s bad nostalgia. People like me? Well, we either torture ourselves further by obsessively listening to something that depresses us or we treat it like shit. With the exception of my immediate family (and all my nieces and nephews whom I love more than anything, and I mean anything) I have a hard time loving people. Sometimes I scare myself with my lack of empathy, although I know it’s not so much apathy as survival. I learned the hard way the burdens of everyone else. As a result, I’m simultaneously mistrusting and optimistic: I know people are assholes, but I wish they weren’t. I also realize that I too, am an asshole, and a pretty big one. I can be an absolute prick, and if I’m feeling like shit chances are I’m gonna want you to feel as shitty as I do. That is something about myself I’m desperately trying to change (I won’t lie it’s fucking hard). Because I love music more than anything, I end up treating it like a person, with both the good and the bad. Music is one of the few things I love, and one of the few I have no qualms about loving and freely allow myself to. But, I still like control, and if you can’t live without something then you’ve lost control. (Well, not really it just means that you love and need something, and you really shouldn’t bring control issues into it. But the dipshit that I am, knowing full well, I still do.)

When I was a child I would spend my days crying “Mommy, come here!” I remember perfectly well wanting her so desperately. When she would emerge from the kitchen (slightly exasperated) and say “what Louisa?” she would disgust me (I was four) and I would yell “No! Go away!” This cycle would repeat and repeat throughout the day. The reason I did this was I loved her so much and I didn’t like not having control over my emotions. Although, I gotta say, if I were my own kid I’d let myself cry. My mother didn’t, she was very patient, for the most part, and I thought she was beautiful and flawless.
The reason I brought that up was to illustrate a point. Not all, but some (myself included) have a hard time handling it when we love something or someone too much. We don’t know how to react when we don’t have control so we try to control what’s making us feel that way (a.k.a. you, or whatever else it may be). It’s sick, I know. But to make things even worse, when people and things start doing what they’re told it can seem pathetic, but if they don’t, well that infuriates you. It’s a sick cycle that you have to work hard at staying out of, especially if you ever step foot into it. Music can be both the cycle and what you’re encircling.

You take your anger out on music, and also with it. Wouldn’t it be easier to work through your emotions, rather than burying shit, pretending you’ve moved on, only then to inform someone they can no longer listen to a certain song because it reminds them of an old hurt you caused? I get that if a wound is fresh, you don’t exactly want salt poured on it and music is the salt of the fuckin’ earth. I totally get that; I’m guilty of it myself. However, why music? Why is a song we love punished? I’d still get pissed if I was told not to wear a certain perfume or my favorite purple shoes ‘cause that’s what I wore constantly during that period (and I probably wouldn’t listen, ‘cause that’s just stupid; at least with the shoes) but it’d be better than music.

We do it all the fucking time. You forever hear someone say, “Oh, I don’t listen to so and so anymore because it reminds me of such and such…” And that is terribly sad. I say you should obsessively listen to a song that terribly depresses you until you can no longer remember without trying how you felt the first time you heard it. Yeah, that same old feeling will forever be there, but that can change slightly. I’ll use my favorite band’s first album as an example. I remember completely the first time I heard that album, but because I’ve listened to it so obsessively, one particular time or place doesn’t stand out all that much. That album fits any mood or season, unlike, say STP’s No.4 which needs to be listened to at night in the chilly spring (not Fall, Fall is too crisp) because that’s when I got it and reignited my love of the DeLeo brothers. I could listen to “Church on Tuesday” in the middle of summer, but my heart would yearn for a cold Spring night. That is part of the beauty of that album; but I gotta be in the right mood, versus my favorite band, where they put me in the mood. But, if I so choose I can go back to the first time I ever heard the opening bars. That is precisely why you should listen to a song that depresses you, constantly. You will have worked through your emotions.

Music really does speak the emotions words could never express. That is why we take out all our pain and confusion on music. Because there are certain emotions, certain places we just can’t go, much like my favorite Oscar Wilde line. We just can’t and I need to accept that. So as much as it breaks my heart that I ruined “Meet me in the bathroom” for another it’s actually a testament to the power of the song. Yes, part of the pain was sheer familiarity (I did constantly sing and hum the fucker) but it was the lyrics and everything else blended together. The music was me, because I became it I loved it so immensely, and the story almost became my story (especially for those few days when I decided to take up “they were just two fucks in lust, oh baby that just don’t mean much…” as my new mantra) but more importantly they were my favorite band. That’s why he hated that song, I don’ blame him (though I wish he could’ve worked through it or picked a different song). We pick the music to shun that we do because we (or someone else) love it so much we hate it. We hate it for making us feel- whatever. It’s easier to just say fuck it than to work through it. “Yeah, ya trained me not to love after you taught me what it was”

Why do we still love people? Even after they’ve caused me so much pain and suffering, it’s not even funny. Because we love them.

That last line was me drunk off my ass. And you know what Louisa? It is funny and really, dude you deserve any so-called pain because you’ve inflicted way worse. Besides dear, you were just drunk and maybe there is some truth to “Still in love (song)” but I’m not exactly feeling it anymore. Yesterday I was all about how terrible we are to music, today I’m all about its power of healing. ‘Cause I got new music and the world couldn’t be a more beautiful place.
Let’s face it; I’m so unsure about everything except music that it’s both sad and beautiful all at the same time. Music (with the exception of faith) is my only constant. The only thing I ever remain sure of. The only fuckin’ thing. Truth be told, I am an asshole, and I do have a tendency to treat the things I love (music) like shit. Why? I don’t know, though “asshole” keeps springing to mind. I love certain songs so much it scares the shit outta me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really fucking wouldn’t.

I don’t handle fear very well all the time (especially the fear of rejection, though I have reached the point where I consider the source and I realize “I don’t like you, so really, who gives a shit?”) and as a result “paper over my vulnerability with arrogance”. I’m trying not to be such a dick, and so damn temperamental, I really am. And I still listen to all my music, even the stuff that reminds me of shit I don’t want to remember (not with the same frequency. I use up music very quickly and have no real further use for it with a few select exceptions) because it’s not fair to the music to quit it altogether. Besides, ya gotta remember the past so you don’t pull that same shit again. So, I’m doing my best (though I’m not sure that means shit) and I’m gonna be angry along with my music, not at it.

*Today, 11/11/11 (I just wanted to type that again ;) )

So, this is another chapter from the book I mentioned the other day.  This chapter is actually right before the chapter I shared the other day: In Praise of SPIN and/or My All Consuming Guilt (though the Rolling Stone interview still withstands)

I realize that it’s kinda difficult to get a sense of what I was trying to accomplish, and what I was dealing with, without reading the book in its entirety or from the beginning.  I plan on adding more, including the Prologue et cetera, et cetera, however I chose this chapter because, well, I’m not really sure why.  I just did.  Partially because of the title.  In case you haven’t noticed I love this title.  I even titled a short film about  my niece The Confusions of a Fleeting Youth. I also have a song with a similar title- you get the idea.  I think I love this title because it deals so directly with my key fears- the unknown (aka confusion) and the fleeting nature of life.

Anyway, yeah.  Thanks for reading. And if you have any ideas, comments, etc. about what I’ve shared with you, please share with me.  More than anything, I’m interested in what you, yes you, think.

-Louisa

Eleven Eleven, Eleven/Eleven/Eleven

I have been waiting for this day for fifteen years, FIFTEEN years.

When i was 12 and in 7th grade, making a wish at 11:11 was a huge deal. For realz. We’d all announce it to each other- “it’s 11:11, make a wish!” and we would. And I’m sure we all (or at least I did anyway) made really stupid wishes, but yet I’m sure they’re not that different than those I make now- with or without the magical presence of the clock ticking 11:11. I no longer wish that so and so likes me, or that I’ll (finally) get my first period like the rest of my girl friends. (Although, now that I think about it, women all over the world are praying that they’ll get it. Not because they’re the only one who’s not a woman yet, but because they don’t want to be knocked up by that asshole they’re kinda seeing.) In fact, I’d love to not worry about my period. I hate forgetting tampons and having to call my bf Cary to bring me some- that sucks. Plus, they’re super expensive if you think about it in the long run. ANYWAY, my point is that I’m not that different than I was at 12. I still wish for things like “please let me pass this test” or “please let the teacher not notice me and therefore not call on me” and “please let me be happy”. The last one is the big one. I wish for happiness a lot. I did then too.

So, fifteen years ago, when it felt like the magic of 11:11 could possibly be real, I started thinking about the big one: November 11th, 2011- 11:11 11/11/11. I remember thinking that it was weird that I’d be 27, but that anything I wished for that day would have to come true. It would HAVE to.

So, when 11:11 rolled around today, I made a wish. But I was in class, and I don’t remember what I wished for. Crazy, huh? I mean, this literally just happened and I can’t recall the wish. Maybe it’s better that way. My subconscious remembers, but I don’t. Belief requires conviction and I’d like to think I have enough. Truth be told, for the most part, I’m really happy- content even. I still suffer from bouts of despair and the fear that I’m not good enough. I worry less about failure and more about mediocrity, though. I worry about money, whether or not I’m employable, the future- everything really. I’m a worrier, have been for years, and this won’t change. But I have a burning desire for happiness and and the magic of 11:11 was never the combination of numbers, but the belief that it could happen. Now, at 27, I have more than belief, I have conviction.

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Weight and Waiting

I am overweight. I know this, am well aware of this, would like to change this, but can’t seem to find the energy or time to do the FIRM like I used to. In fact, as I type this, I should be writing a paper on film sound and “Mulholland Drive” but I’m not. I should also be editing my final film, but I’m not. I should also be thinking about my final paper in my Film & Literature class, but I’m not (there’s a pattern here) and I should be thinking about this art installation/runway show project I, and two other classmates, have on Wednesday, but I’m not. So, if I can’t even get going on my film sound paper that’s due in less than six hours, how am I supposed to find the energy (especially since I’m battling, and apparently losing, a nasty cold/bronchial thing- I sound like a barking seal when I cough) to get my fat ass up and moving? The sad thing is, I used to love to exercise. It’s empowering- there are very few things in this world that make you feel as accomplished and good about yourself, as finishing an intense workout, but yet again, I have digressed. This post is not about my stress levels which just make me gain more weight, my money worries and problems, my papers and class projects stacking up etc. but rather about perception.

Because I’m fat, somewhere, somehow, people (including instructors) have started think differently of me: as if my ability to be fashionable, or creative is genuinely inhibited by my weight (which isn’t that horrible- its not great, but I’m definitely not in danger of needing to buy an extra airplane seat). I am speaking about a comment made in passing about a current project I am working on. Several comments, actually. But first, let me clear a few things up- I am a fashionable woman. Just because I show up to class in jeans and button down shirts does not change this- it just means that A. I’m going to class, and B. I am well aware that spandex is a privilege not a right, and therefore I do not wear the same clothes I would have five years ago. Also, I’m 27, so regardless of weight issues, I still would be wearing more grown up attire- which often includes slacks and button down shirts. My weight does not change the fact that I know what is attractive, it just means that I maybe can’t/shouldn’t wear it. Case closed. I also never have enough time to do my makeup, and sometimes- a lot of times, I don’t feel like wasting fantastic UD eyeshadow on my fellow students, or instructors. But none of these things change the fact that I have taste and style. My weight, apparently, tells otherwise.

I am currently working on several creative projects, one of which includes fashion. Now maybe it’s because I’m often wearing purple converse and jeans rather than stilettos and skirts like I used to, but I have a sneaking feeling that it’s because I’m fat, that quite a few people who I’ve talked about this project to, automatically assume that I’ve had zero creative input in the fashion involved. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. They all assume that it must be my partner, who is very petit, and fashionable. I’m not knocking her, or her creative input by any means, but the automatic assumption, and the look I see in these people’s eyes when I talk about this project is frustrating to say the least. Especially since if I know that if I were to wear the exact same things I wear now, but with a size 2 label, no-one would second guess my creative input in this project. Five years ago I would wander around town in converse and band t-shirts, outrageous eye makeup and (gasp) button down shirts- nothing that different from now, and I would be complimented on my creativity. Conversations would spring from a Smiths or Strokes t-shirt. Now granted, I realize that music played a big part in that, but what I’m getting at is that because I was thin- it was okay. It could be considered stylish; now because I’m overweight, it’s considered unimaginative, as if there are only a few clothes for us fat women to choose from (which is to a certain degree true, I mean, I’m not gonna wear a backless dress, and four inch stilettos) and we couldn’t possibly be interested in fashion, because well, we’re fat.

This is horrifying to me. To think that my abilities as an artist, as a visionary (of a certain kind and to a certain degree) could be (and probably, most certainly are) dismissed and overlooked because I’m fat. This constant evaluation of women, based on charm and looks, rather than talent or intelligence is heartbreakingly ridiculous. I’ve always known that if you want to make it in Hollywood you have to be thin, I just always thought (or hoped) it only pertained to being in front of the camera, not behind. If even in academia I find these brick walls built with stupid assumptions, will I always?

Now, this would be the part in the movie where I get a personal trainer, lose a shit-ton of weight, get my revenge, and the sexy guy I’ve not so secretly been pining over to my size 2 sister (one of my sisters really is a size 2) or best friend etc. falls in love (gasp) with me for me. Yet somehow, this doesn’t occur until he sees my smoking hot new bod. -Gross. The thing is, I have a happy, committed relationship with a guy who thinks/knows I’m beautiful, and although I may look at old clothes wistfully, my weight has never kept me up at night, until now. Don’t get me wrong, I, like every other woman in America, get upset/depressed in the dressing room and wish I had gone to the gym or put down the piece of cake, BUT, I get over it, and know my worth is not wrapped up in how I look. In fact, there have been times when I’ve kinda liked not being a size 2: girls aren’t as bitchy or mean as they used to be, guys don’t harass me like they used to. People (or so I thought) actually listen to what I have to say. HOWEVER, it seems as though I’ve discovered that all bets are off in a creative field- Image is everything.

So instead, I guess this is the part in the movie where I maybe lose weight and I tell the guy impressed by surface rather than substance to “fuck off.” But either way, not until I’ve had my revenge.

-Louisa

In praise of SPIN and/or my all consuming guilt (though The Rolling Stone interview still withstands)

*An excerpt from my mind circa Spring 2004ish (I think) and in honor of Chuck Klosterman coming to the ICPL tomorrow!!!

Yesterday started as a fucking fantastic day. I got my SPIN in the mail (which is always thrilling) laughed my ass off, thoroughly enjoyed myself, decided I was gonna marry Chuck Klosterman (so I could be his problematic bitch) and Morrissey was on the cover. The universe was at peace. Then I went to work and things went completely to shit, surprise, surprise.

Like I said before I’m an asshole, but unlike a lot of pricks I take full responsibility for my stupid, asshole actions and subsequent failures. Maybe too much (I can be brutal on myself), though I’m pretty sure I deserve it. Yeah I do. We reap what we sow, and the hardest lesson to learn is to take your lumps and repent, trying to forgive yourself all the while.

I’m such a fucking fool and contradiction. I have a hard time forgiving people, and an even harder time forgiving myself, yet I expect other people to forgive me. I just don’t know what to do with myself. Fuck it. It’s nothing a new album won’t cure. (And I just went and bought five at CDGB’s which included acquiring that perfect song from the other day.)

The universe is back at peace. If only for my manic mood swings and confusion over love. Though, now that I think about it, maybe I don’t want to marry Chuck Klosterman after all. I’ve never been a member of the KISS Army (nor have I ever particularly cared for them) and that might be a source of contention. (I’m looking to and preparing for whatever may come in all future relationships with rock writers that I have never met.) Maybe I really should just meet him first. Yeah, that sounds good.

Anyway, back to the thrill of a new issue of SPIN. SPIN totally fucking rocks. And I love it, I absolutely fucking love SPIN. When my new issue arrives I get beyond excited. It makes my day.

I’m always happy to get my latest Blender (which has lots of tidbits, and a few too many tits, since you know, I’m not a lesbian, but whatever.) and a little less happy to get my Rolling Stone. It has nothing to do with not liking Rolling Stone and everything to do with perpetually being disappointed by it. SPIN rarely disappoints (however I sometimes do question what the fuck it is exactly that they’re smoking that makes them think Dashboard Confessional deserves to be on the cover yet again.)

I cannot stress enough my love for SPIN. Several covers have come and gone since the universe was at peace, but I wasn’t. Hell, even Karen O graced the cover, I’ve gotten over my once all consuming guilt, and yeah things are lookin’ good. I got another SPIN in the mail today, flipped through it, and then savored it. But a thought occurred to me the other day when my newest Rolling Stone arrived. It’s a fuckin’ disappointment. I am I really supposed to take them and their articles seriously when they have some stupid fucking pop tart on the cover? Or some other equally vacant celebrity? Am I supposed to take what they have to say about the state of national affairs or anything else for that matter as truth when they themselves can’t take music seriously, or at least put an actual musician on the cover? Yeah, the premiere music magazine- the final say in what rocks and what doesn’t, can’t even put an actual songwriter or musician on the cover half of the time (I will admit I love Angelina Jolie and Quentin Tarantino etc., so those covers are never a waste in my eyes. Especially since the Rolling Stone interview is still the interview. But shouldn’t they stick to music? I’m just asking)

Maybe I should just shut the fuck up, since pretty much the only thing I read, and one of the reasons my subscription is good for another five years is Peter Travers’ movie reviews. I absolutely love him. He is hands down the only person whose recommendation I will actually take. I used to really enjoy Rob Sheffield’s “POP EYE”, but I’ve got Chuck Klosterman’s “rant and roll over: pop culture musing and abusing”. And I prefer Chuck, but that could just be because Rob’s eye has been missing for a couple of years now. My point is I no longer understand Rolling Stone. What type of periodical is it? I apparently, stupidly thought it was supposed to be a music mag, but the constant barrage of shit on the cover tells me otherwise. So um yeah, uh my mistake. That said, they still have the quintessential interview. The Rolling Stone fucking interview. We’ve all fantasized about that one and for what? I gotta admit- I get my Rolling Stone, flip through it and discard it (though save it). Yeah, they’ve had some really great shit, a lot of which I looked up again for this book, but the vast amount of pages needed to sift through to find something worthwhile is amazing; whereas SPIN, even though I may not read everything,or even the cover, never fails to deliver. Blender does too (although I am sick of that stupid bitch (guess) they keep putting on the cover) ‘cause, yeah they’re a little too swayed by a glimpse of tits and ass, but other than that, they’re cool. **(not yet finished, obviously)

Today, November 8th, 2011:

**notice the note I left for myself in parentheses- like somehow, I’d be given an opportunity to publish this without editing or proofreading it first, and I’d somehow miss that this entire chapter is incomplete (and shitty- actually, if not for the whole Chuck Klosterman reference/homage/desire to be his problematic bitch, I would never have published this, let alone used it as a starting point). Then again, I’m about to post it for the world to see, so maybe I had a point seven years ago…

So yeah, not my best work, by any means (thank god), but nevertheless a glimpse into my mind as a twenty year old. Kinda fascinating. And horrifying. Thankfully it’s over.

-Louisa

The Former Confusions of a Once Fleeting Youth

Once upon a time I was gonna be a rockstar. And a writer- in the Lester Bangs “Rock ‘n’ Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock ‘n’ Roll.” For those of you who know me, you know that I can be extremely secretive. I do not open up easily to others, although I may pretend that I do- I wrote some songs about this once- well, lyrics really, and a half-assed, half-formed melody that my brother tidied up and made into something pretty spectacular and weird, but I’ve digressed. I am a private person, very much so, but writing has always been a wonderful means of expression for me, and one that I’ve shied away from recently. I don’t know why.

When I started this Blog, my intentions were to write about film, but I’ve found that the great oxymoron of being a film student is that I no longer go to the movies. EVER. Which is terribly, horribly sad, but nonetheless, true. If anything, I watch TV more than I do films now. I don’t have the money or the time to go to the theatre, but I can watch “Dexter” on Sunday nights, hell, I’ve even been staying tuned for ‘HomeLand”. Don’t get me wrong, I watch several movies a week, it’s just that it’s always for school. And I’m currently editing my own short documentary/poetic/I’m not sure what the hell it is or going on film for my Advanced 16mm Film class. So, I’m pretty busy. Did I mention I work as a corporate whore/slave for a chain restaurant too? Yeah. Life’s pretty overwhelming. But whose life isn’t? I’d truly love to go to the movies- I love everything about the theatre, but I just can’t seem to find the time or the energy. Which leads me back to this space carved out for me.

I’ve now changed my mind about this blog. Several years ago- seven, almost eight, to be exact- I started writing a book. True story. It was originally about music and art and what it meant to be a true artist and all this shit. Instead it became a weird confessional mingled with pop culture/musical ruminations. I’ve done nothing with it. I poured my heart and soul into those chapters of that book- obsessed over random interviews with my favorite band, refused to throw out any of my old SPINs or Blenders (I since have) and generally viewed my writings as my only means for salvation (not in a spiritual sense). And I don’t want all that time to have been wasted. So, while I would like to eventually write about film, glorious film, I instead would like to share those writings that meant so much to me with all of you (and by this I mean the one or two friends/family who’ll actually take the time to read this) in hopes that it wasn’t all for naught, and that perhaps, just perhaps… (you can fill in the blanks)

 

-Louisa

 

An “I’m Not Gonna Lie Production” in the making

Yesterday was my anniversary.  Six years, no ring, well aware that I need to get married.  (Interesting side note- found a note I made on my iPhone two years ago planning this past June, 2011 as a good time to get married.  Obviously that didn’t happen.)  We went tire shopping and briefly discussed going to the movies.  It didn’t happen.  What’s interesting about this is that I’m a cinema major finishing my BA and I hardly ever go to the movies anymore.  It doesn’t help that Cary, my boyfriend, isn’t really into going to the movie theatre, or the fact that I’m a poor, struggling college student, but shouldn’t I be making it a priority?  I think I’ve figured out why I don’t go to the movies anymore.

Firstly, in two days I’ll be back to watching two to three movies a week not for pleasure (because pleasure is bad, very bad) but for academic purposes.  And secondly, because I still like going to the movies.  Simple as that.  In fact, I don’t just like the movies, I LOVE the movies.  As a result I refuse to start seeing Oedipal subtext in everything, or the nation state etc.  I don’t want to watch a movie and think about Marx or Gramsci.  I don’t want to think about Baudry’s Cinematic Apparatus Theory, either (If you haven’t heard of this and want to look it up- go ahead.  It’s interesting, but yeah.  And if you know what I’m talking about- congratulations you’re probably either an intense cinephile or at the humblest, a cinema major, like myself).  I just want to watch a movie.  As an aspiring director and/or cinematographer, what I want to notice, if anything, is how bitching/gorgeous the cinematography is.  I want to think “Wow, how did they do that?!” or “That’s cool.  I could totally do something similar.” etc.  I don’t want to dissect everything I see into tiny little pieces and over-analyze it.  I have no desire to reassemble every minute piece into an allegory about the nation.  I don’t and I refuse to.

Don’t get me wrong; I hate crappy movies.  I have a very distinct taste, one that can’t fully be explained here and now.  I am not one to jump on Oscar bandwagons.  I do, however watch the Oscar’s every year and have since I was a child.  But I watch for both the same and different reasons as you: I watch to see who the Academy’s robbed this year, and who is wearing who.  I get mad and want to throw things at the TV (I don’t) and I get teary-eyed when someone gets waaaayyyy too emotional about their win.  The commercials aren’t bad either- they’re not SuperBowl Ads, but they’re still good.  The point is I’m starting to wonder how I’ll survive outside the confines of school.  I don’t exactly have the same tastes as the masses but I wouldn’t dream of calling myself a film academic or cinephile either.  I just love movies enough to want to make them.  Hell, I’d be happy to work on a decent TV show.  So this is my premise and promise: I want to write about film here (and about some other random stuff too) for all (one) of you.  I want to talk about what’s working for and against what’s playing at the local megaplex or is available to rent from Family Video or Netflix, in an accessible and (somewhat) informed way.  This blog isn’t for pretension, as I couldn’t even begin to pretend that I know everything, but instead for those who love film, like myself.  My plan is for this blog to be for both everyone and for those who desire a little more crediblity.   Roger Ebert I’m not and thankfully so, but I still think this is worth checking out.  For realz :)

-Louisa

Tagged ,

Hey

Hey everyone (aka Shannon)

 

This is my first ever post.  Crazy, huh?

 

Next time (and there will be a next time) I promise there’ll be more.  Much more.

 

Until then,

Louisa

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