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figuring out what to release

December 16, 2015

The more time I spend away from books, and (mostly) off social media, the more I have the space to develop clarity about what I like, what matters to me, and how much I need to ditch the (other) stuff that isn’t working for me.

{I have wondered if I want to try my own hand at filmmaking, so I’ve been seeking out documentaries, as well as more ordinary movies.}

The more time I spend watching movies, the less I’m sure I want to do anything in particular with what I’m learning, The important thing to me right now is to stay engaged: if something doesn’t hold my interest, I stop watching.

I got Bridesmaids from the library, which I’d been wondering about for a while. I’m a fan of Maya Rudolph; sometimes I like Melissa McCarthy. It’s supposed to be funny. Anyway, even though I hated the first 5 minutes, I stuck with it for another 20 minutes or so. Then I bailed.

I have this quirk about needing to have at least 1 sympathetic character to follow in movies. It doesn’t even have to be a main character; in a pinch, if the setting is a sort of character, that can work too [[the Mediterranean fishing village, random feral cats, and live crabs, in Agnès Varda’s La Pointe-Courte]]. But there’s got to be somebody I actually give a fuck about.

I lasted 5 minutes with 27 Dresses.

I did manage to get through all 82 minutes of a documentary on “interior designer and fashion icon” Iris Apfel, but part of that was the contrast she presented to “fashion editor and style icon” Diana Vreeland (whom I’d just watched a documentary on, and found very engaging).

Spouse is currently watching a documentary on photographer Sally Mann that I suffered through a week ago. Despite being 15 years older than I am, her mannerisms and preoccupations somehow reminded me of my (younger) sister. In any case, even though I’ve enjoyed Sally Mann’s photographs for many years, enjoyed following the career of a woman photographer, and enjoyed that Spouse is a long-time fan of her work too… I did not enjoy this documentary (which is why Spouse is watching it without me). The music’s good though. Her family’s Virginia farm is lovely.


I recently deleted my Flickr account, which I’d had since late 2009. I may join Spouse on Instagram at some point.


I think the last time I had so much time and space in my mind not filled with other people’s thoughts, ideas, frustrations, etc., was early childhood. It’s definitely been an adjustment to get accustomed to these new rhythms, heavily populated with silences and pauses. With boredom. With emptiness. But… it all seems like it’s… a good thing. It’s uncomfortable, but only because it’s unfamiliar. And because in my family of origin, any empty space was filled in a rush as if emptiness itself was dangerous. It’s not, it’s just different.

I’m finally figuring out why I operate the way I do. Why I need the things I do. Which things have been bothering me (often for quite a while) and why. More importantly, perhaps, what I can do about what’s been bothering me.

Get rid of things.

Bail on things that haven’t lived up to what I’d hoped for.

Re-evaluate where to concentrate my time and efforts.


I’m pretty sure I’m “developmentally editing” my life right now. Time to chuck a whole lotta stuff that didn’t really work. (Or, the time that it did work was Long Long Ago.)


Despite being huddled under a wool blanket (and perhaps because my hair still hasn’t dried, even though I washed it 3.5 hours ago), my hands are freezing, and I can’t really concentrate.

I want to write, but my thoughts keep scattering to the winds. Annoying.

How did I just finish off half a box of cookies, but I don’t feel full, or sick from sugar? (Yet.) Sugar, especially chocolate, can be a quick-and-dirty aid to focus when I’m highly distractible.


I can hear Sally Mann talking on the TV in the other room.

I liked the documentary on Annie Leibovitz. Hopefully the one Spouse has on Gordon Parks (that we haven’t watched yet) is good.


Reflected earlier today on my experiences interviewing people. I’ve historically thought I’m decently skilled at it (mostly because of my natural curiosity, and interest in people), but… I keep coming up with questions I really want the answers to. And often, those are questions people refuse to answer.

Probably better interviewers go with the flow, at least somewhat. Documentarians definitely seem to.

Realized… I’ve been using the interviews I have done at least partly as proxies for… feeling seen? Except that the time periods I was asking people about were… before I was born, so I would not personally appear in their reminiscences.

But also… our sensibilities turned out to not be simpatico. So instead of feeling seen, I felt alienated.

Also, I’ve been studying the credits on the backs of the boxes of documentary DVDs. I default to thinking about the interview with LW as my project. I conceived of it, I thought about it for 6 years before I did something about it, I researched the subject matter, I came up with questions, I prodded Spouse into making arrangements to do it (LW is his relative). We went to LW’s house, and I interviewed him.

BUT. Spouse shot the video, did the sound. Set everything up physically at the house, as well as made the social arrangements for us to do it at all.

All I did was ask questions. I’m not sure I even qualify as the “writer”. If there could be said to be a “director”, it clearly wasn’t me. Maybe “producer”? Probably not.

And, gods, editing. I mean, film editing. I definitely didn’t do any of that; Spouse did all of it.

It’s too fiddly. I would never have the patience for it.

What did I even do?

= = =

The things I (tend to) like about other people are often things they’ve never noticed about themselves, or don’t care about. Therefore, me pointing out “hey, we have this interest in common! Isn’t that cool?” falls flat. With LW, I actually felt humiliated: I would never have thought of interviewing him in the first place if I hadn’t thought I had unique qualifications for asking useful questions about our common interest. Turned out, we liked it for totally different — and incompatible — reasons. And he couldn’t care less about my interest in it. By the end of that godawful day, I was completely wrung out. And my years-long fascination with LW had… dissipated.

Since he was one of the few of Spouse’s relatives that I genuinely enjoyed being around, that’s been a big loss. If I’d never pushed to actually interview him, I’d still be thinking fondly of him today.

Really, something similar with K, even though there weren’t any formal interviews — I just asked her a lot of questions whenever we spoke on the phone. That’s how I discovered… we no longer have any significant values in common (did we ever?), and are completely different kinds of people. (I really would’ve preferred not learning that, when she’s ‘having a bad day’, she likes to poke people with sticks. My mother and sister and brother do that. It’s gross.)

= = =

Anyway, maybe experimental film is a better fit for my aptitudes and skills than interviewing people.

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