Colombia-Bound

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Toridotgov is taking a break from regularly-scheduled (uh, whimsical, sporadic) programming to go on a totally spontaneous bought-my-ticket-48-hours-before-departure leaving-tomorrow-morning omg-omg-omg trip to the birthplace of the most adorable 87-year-old man on the planet, Gabriel Garcia “I love you too, Tori” Marquez! THAT’S RIGHT, I’M GOING TO COLUMBIA, OHIO! Minus Ohio. Oh, SIMILAR PLACE NAMES! You’re so tricksy, like Gollum! Two important things. No, three.

1. IF YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND FROM NOW ON WE ARE TAKING SPONTANEOUS TRIPS AROUND THE WORLD. Who cares about money? Put that thang on your credit card, baby! LET’S SEE EVERYTHING!

2. I just want to take a moment to say that I love my dad and this trip is extra-secretly meaningful to me because my parents traveled around Colombia (and the rest of South America) on their honeymoon. I am taking the film camera they used to document their shenanigans (well, the second film camera…the first one was stolen…in Colombia…SHH MY DAD DOESN’T KNOW I’M TAKING IT IT’S A SURPRISE/I DON’T WANT HIM TO PANIC). I am also taking a little journal embossed with my initials in real gold leaf that my dad picked up for me in Kenya, so that I can write down everything I think. I owe my (largely-unfulfilled) love of traveling to him, as well as my love of all things translated-from-the-Spanish. I wish I had his knack for languages and his ability to live off canned beans and egg tortillas so that he could spend all his money on seeing the museums and monuments and natural splendors of the world. Papi, you’re an inspiration!

3. Hi ghost of Scott & Zelda perpetually pinned to the back of my bedroom door, YOU INSPIRE ME TOO.

Love List #5

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Positivity…you and me…oh yeah! That’s just a little pop song I wrote for us today. Apparently meditating for 5 minutes a day can make you happier, and keeping a gratitude journal can retrain your mind to focus on the good things in life instead of the bad things, like the fact that EVERY MORNING THIS WEEK I have been woken up from a text from my arch-nemesis, CHASE BANK, informing me that my bank account has been overdrawn. This is what happens when DUKE ENERGY (another nemesis) refuses to process your debit card payments in a timely fashion. Anyway, I’ll start that whole meditating and gratitude journal thing this summer when I’m not so busy “writing a paper” and “grading” that I can barely spend a lazy afternoon watching old Marilyn Monroe films. What am I digging today, besides the new Selena Gomez single, “Come and Get It”? I thought you’d never ask.

1. Flash fiction.

Flash fiction is so ridiculously rewarding to write I can’t even deal with it. Basically you just write about 5-25 nice sentences, slap on a fancy title, and email it to all your friends and family, who are spiritually obligated to respond, “This is great!”

2. My Rihanna + Nirvana playlist

Best idea I’ve ever had.

3. My cohort.

I love you guys & gals. See you at the Pulitzers.

4. Lists of names.

Sometimes I have a hard time choosing names for my characters, because every name comes with so much baggage (I can’t use a name if I know a real person with that name: unless it’s something really neutral, like John…OH WAIT I HAVE A BROTHER NAMED JOHN.). So, like lots of writers, I spent a significant amount of time scrolling through baby-name websites and shutting down pop-ups that say things like MOMS! CLICK HERE FOR BREAST-FEEDING TRICKS! And sometimes I get a little emotional scrolling through the names. They’re just such a beautiful representation of our human history, you know? Hildegarde. Hippolyta. Helen. Every name has such a crazy story behind it. She who frees the horses. Sometimes it just feel amazing to be alive in a world where so many other people lived, walked, touched, ate, loved, and were named and named and named. Not that I would ever, and I mean NOT THAT I WOULD EVER name a character “Hildegarde.” Not tryna be Wagner 2.0 over here.

5. Jalapeño-brown-sugar simple syrup.

THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER MADE. PAIR IT WITH WHISKEY NOW.

6. Writing while lying down.

Get in bed, put your computer on your stomach, and type lazily. This is the perfect type of writing position for working on multiple things at the same time, verrrry slowly. You’ll feel like a consumptive Victorian lady in the best possible sense.

7. “The Misfits”

Beautiful movie about American freedom and American heartbreak, described so well by Joyce Carol Oates:

The characters resembled broken-down actors. Famous faces yet not themselves. You looked at Gay Langland and thought Wasn’t he once Clark Gable? . . . You looked at the battered rodeo performer Perce Howland and thought My God! He used to be Montgomery Clift. These are people you knew when you were a kid. . . . Hey: do you know me? These were ordinary Americans of the 50’s yet mysterious to you because you knew them long ago when the world was mysterious and even your own face, contemplated in a mirror, in for instance the cigarette vending machine of that bus station or in the water-specked mirror above a lavatory sink, was a mystery never to be solved.

8. Entry fees.

JUST KIDDING I HATE THEM SO MUCH. World, why do you only want people who work in finance to succeed? WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT US?

9. Dreaming about a new computer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my tiny little Netbook so much. It’s been with me through thousands of commutes and millions of coffee shops. It’s helped me write GENIUS stories, SCINTILLATING screenplays, RADICAL articles, SUBVERSIVE papers, ERRATIC emails, IRONIC Tweets, DELUSIONAL song lyrics, and a million blog posts. But…it’s so slow…and the screen is so tiny. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just want Alexsander Petrovsky’s XXXTREME 3-screened computer system. And then I will rejoice.

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Streamline Your Life for Spring

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Welcome to my small Internet corner of grace and serenity, toridotgovlets. Today’s life lesson involves letting go. Yes, my faithful neophytes–those of you who turn to me every day for the small parcels of immortal wisdom that I dole out like precious jewels or the Turkish delights that Edmund eats in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which reminds me of two things: first of all, wtf is with that title, who gets away with something like that? It’s so long and clunky and random, I mean, I love it, but wow! And second of all, it is important to always be in touch with your roots–mine are obviously being homeschooled, which is why I can reference works of fantasy so easily, as though I’m buttering a single hyacinth blossom…

I AM SO LOST, WHERE WERE WE?

*chugs cocktail coffee*

Isn’t it weird that WordPress has a strike-out feature? It’s like they anticipated our need for hilariously self-conscious irony. Why would anyone ever need to strike out text if it weren’t for the purpose of making a joke? Like, no one is oging going to proofread their own work online in visible faux-real time (except I just did to be honest with you all/make a point, and now you can see how fast I type, and what horrific typos come with it, good thing I’m the world’s best proofreader when I need to be!).

You know what? Let’s just stop here for the day. I’m exhuasted exhumed Aztec ironic hipster mustache Mason jar Amish churning butter Greek yogurt grocery store butcher Henry VIII gout haggis exhausted.

Relief

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Yesterday, flushed and grateful from the doctor’s decree that I was a “healthy young woman,” I biked home, fell, scraped up my leg badly, and got a text from a friend about the Boston marathon bombings.

Thrown into sharp relief.

I’m not a Bostonian, or a runner, but as human–and less importantly, an American–of course I’m grieving. As are my friends and family. I was going to post something silly today, but maybe this would be a better time to remind ourselves of certain things. And of course, an onlooker’s response in the face of tragedy will always feel a little bit petty. But I think that if we don’t think, in moments like these, than the evil wins.

“We interpret life at moments of the deepest desperation.” –Roberto Bolaño

“Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.” –David Foster Wallace

1. Don’t take anything for granted.

All this week I’ve had this odd premonition that I need to be more grateful for my good health, when so many people are fighting for their lives against disease. And now this. It’s not self-centered to turn inward for a minute and feel deep gratitude for all the things you’ve been given, and all the things you hold close. Especially other people.

2. Love.

If there can be said to be anything remotely positive about tragedies that shake the nation, it’s that the relief between good and evil is heightened more than ever. First we think: who the fuck did this? I hate them. And then we see humanity rising to its highest, truest form: goodness. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to go through life slightly irritated with everyone I encounter. That slow barista. That driver on his cell phone. It’s easy to forget to love our fellow humans, and even easier to forget that we are more all the same than we are different. This article made me cry.

Relief between good and evil.

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3. Stop comparing everything!

Now is the time when holier-than-thou people on Facebook creep out of the woodwork and remind us that people are being slaughtered and bombed the entire world over. True, it’s frighteningly easy for Americans to forget that the rest of the world is embroiled in violence greater and more persistent than anything we know. But a human life is a human life, and comparison is a thief. And there is nothing wrong with letting a country mourn its own dead. I don’t understand why my generation has this obsessive need to congratulate themselves for their own philanthropy on Facebook. In the realm of the unreal.

4. Love.

Love.

5. And hate.

My dad always told me it’s okay to hate what is evil. I don’t think it’s okay to answer with hate, but it’s okay to despise the truly evil. The good hates the evil. We’re not good, not really, but the most we can do is try. Actions like the bombing, or the Westboro Baptist Church protesting the Boston funerals (makes me sick just to type that organization’s name): those things are truly despicable. Worthy of hate.

Sharp relief.

6. Don’t be resigned.

Maybe the world is “just like this.” But don’t be resigned to it. We don’t have to be okay with it.

7. But love.

I don’t know what else we can do in a world where truly terrible things happen every day. Where life is so fragile that any maniac can destroy it. Where we don’t own our own life, but have to hold on to it, desperately, like an heirloom we’re terrified of losing.

There is no relief from what is evil, not today. But good is a weapon, too–a sharper one, I think.

How to Sulk

Apparently I have an easy life, because something petty happened to me recently and I broke down crying and told my boyfriend I wanted to jump off a bridge. I’m almost too embarrassed to tell you about it, because then you’ll think I’m a spoiled, arrogant, delusional fool in need of a reality check. OK, I’M A SPOILED ARROGANT DELUSIONAL FOOL IN NEED OF A REALITY CHECK. Comrades, I have officially been internet trolled, and it doesn’t feel very good.

Two days ago, this article of mine was published on Thought Catalog, and with the flushed enthusiasm of youth, I scrolled down to the comments section, hungry for praise. Any powerful female celebrity could have told me that that was a huge mistake: never read internet comments, people! My article was called “atrocious” and other adjectives that I can’t remember because I WILL NEVER LOOK AT THAT HORRIBLE COMMENTS SECTION AGAIN. The small silver lining is that I’m pretty sure all the insults were from people who took the article literally (which blows my mind: you think I’m serious when I say that one of the 10 Places You Must Go Before You Die is PASTA WITH PARMESAN? DID YOUR BRAIN FALL OUT?). But that didn’t lessen the sting.

I guess it’s human nature to be upset by negative feedback, and no one likes to hear that their BRILLIANT jokes are ATROCIOUS, but I’m still ashamed at myself for sobbing my eyes out and not laughing all the way to the bank with a gin martini in one hand and my leopard-print Louboutins dangling from the other because I’m way too cool to actually wear shoes during the daytime I just prance around like I don’t give a–hold on, this image is misleading, I didn’t actually get paid for the article. EXCEPT IN INSULTS.

To rub salt in the wound, so to speak, these comments came on the tail-end of a day that featured a lengthy emotional email exchange with a close relative, the revealing of a secret to several friends, and general sleep-deprivation. The result? Tori in the Evening: Sulky Misunderstood Self-Pitying Edition. Shockingly, though, my evening turned out to be really awesome. Why? BECAUSE I SULKED RIGHT.

Has the world beaten you down lately, beloved Freudian figment of my imagination? Here’s how you deal, baby. Here’s how you pick up your debit card and deal.

1. Get some sympathy.

Who cares how petty your grievances are? No one likes to feel alone. Make your friends take your side. You’ll feel much better.

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2. Get some perspective.

Are your loved ones in danger? Are you locked in a serial killer’s basement? Do you have any limbs missing? Is the apocalypse currently taking place? No? You’re basically fine then. I’ve found that it helps to lecture yourself until a droplet of perspective seeps into your stubborn little brain, something along the lines of This means nothing in the grand scheme of things, you’re not going to care about this in the morning, PUT DOWN THE SHOTGUN, TORI, PUT IT DOWN RIGHT NOW, STOP TRYING TO DROWN THAT KITTEN!

3. Then get some alcohol.

Dash to the nearest grocery store, preferably while wearing short-shorts and riding your bike super-fast down hills while blasting Michael Jackson. Aesthetic is everything, even in your darkest hour.

4. And also get some other delicious things.

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5. Clutching at your only true friend (A CHOCOLATE BAR), allow yourself to genuinely feel.

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6. Crawl into bed, duh. Turn on a feel-good art-house flick.

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Gnawing at your chocolate bar like a mouse, console yourself with the idea that no matter how low you sink, you will never be the author of Twilight, nor will you be incriminated in the creation of the awful gene pool that resulted in Kristen Stewart’s acting abilities. Voila! Things are looking up already.

The Means of Production

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It’s impossible not to love April. It’s the prettiest month, the crocus month, the herald of the lover’s month (wait, how could I ever pick the prettiest month?): May. As soon as April hit, so did inspiration. I started the month buzzing with near-delusional creative energy and I have the crazed texts to prove it. Some of my friends and I are writing and emailing each other a poem-a-day in honor of National Poetry Month (although in the case of your faithful correspondent, I’m writing flash fiction…ish), and I can’t tell you how rewarding it feels to think up a brand new title night after night (I love titles, I will lick them off the page if I must, DON’T TREAD ON ME). I want to say something like “creation breeds creation” because I think it might be true. I skidded into the last week of March writing 15 desperate script pages a day, completely burned out, feeling like I would never write again. But then April came. Last night, I couldn’t sleep because I kept playing out new scenes in my head. And the scenes were creepy–dead body in the oak tree? nursing a dying baby?–so my inner child-eye refused to close because it was so freaked out. Does anyone else have their best ideas at night? Isn’t that moment when you force yourself to turn on the light and write them down so agonizing? And don’t you feel so self-righteous when you do?

You have to listen to your inner artist just like a pregnant woman listens to what her baby demands from her body. Sometimes you lay fallow and you can’t hate yourself for that. Because this is what happens when you don’t force yourself to churn out page after tepid page. Spring comes, and your whole self blooms.

Happy April! & Other Horrors

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Comrades,

The cruellest month is upon us. Note the spelling there: “cruellest.” You recognize that spelling? I’ll jingle my car keys at you if you don’t. Oh wait, I don’t have a car.

It is with great joy and trepidation that I write to you today, from my antique librarian desk, drinking red wine from a mason jar, resisting the HIPSTER/YUPPIE binary that society forces upon young women who choose alternate career paths. On the one hand, things have never been better! The sun has decided not to abandon us for the Andromeda Galaxy (that stupid ho!), the crocuses are opening their throats and singing to the skies, your faithful correspondent is getting her life together and applying for things to do this summer (you won’t find me doing anything that remotely smacks of “service,” no way! I only apply to things that will pay me to be fabulous. I am what’s wrong with our society!), and apparently everyone on Twitter agrees with me that ampersands are HAWT. On the other hand, the world is definitely ending. My boyfriend is reading 2666, every phone conversation we have ends with a discussion of the ABYSS, I lie awake at night wondering if I can mix carrot juice with champagne (Rose?!? Thoughts?), and I am receiving texts from Meriwether Fassbender-Clarke like this:

Ummmmmmmmmm OMG OMG HAS OUR GENIUS FINALLY THWARTED US?!?!?!?!?! WHY DO I KEEP REPEATING THAT WE’RE GENIUSES WHEN IT’S COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT?! I THINK SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME!!

And this:

OF COURSE YOU’RE AN ARTIST!!!! As geniuses, we just have other random skills that sometimes come into play. I make cookies, you lure people to remote destinations with Facebook invites, TOGETHER WE ARE INVINCIBLE!!!

Do you understand what I’m saying, young neophytes? Neither do I. All I can leave you with are these uncertain truths: try not to get hit by a bus this month. Please follow me on Twitter, it’s a lonely world out there. There is only one month between us and The Great Gatsby movie. Work hard. Don’t get too fatalistic (note to self). Don’t get yo panties in a twist about things that don’t matter, like the subtle sexism implied by the statement “panties in a twist.” Read “Blonde” by Joyce Carol Oates if you want to weep. Don’t hate yourself too much for being a judgmental antisocial socialite, it’s how we tortured creative types make sense of the world, riiiiight? BE HUMBLE. Be kind. Read Meriwether’s new blog. And Rose’s. Take your coin jar to the bank and use the resulting cash to buy glitter and stick-on nail art and chocolate wine. Don’t stress about supporting art for art’s sake, just dig the stuff you’re into and I promise that’s the type of genuine support art needs. Please don’t capitalize “Art,” it’s pretentious. We cool? Great. Happy April!