Friday, January 29, 2010

An excerpt from my novel

He was standing in the house on the hill, and he was watching the girl having sex with the machine, and he was thinking: Is this all there is? Is this it? Has my life come to this? He sat down on the purple velvet fainting couch behind him. That looks great, honey, he said to the girl. He didn’t want anyone to know what he was thinking, sitting on this purple couch that wasn’t his, wondering what the hell he was doing, what he had done to take him to this place, to this house, to this hill, to this day. Whirrrrr, the machine said, like it was doing something really important, and the engine kept driving the metal bar with the dildo attached to the end of it in and out of the girl. In the swing they had hung from the ceiling that morning, the girl tilted her head all the way back, her shiny brown hair fell loose, and her glossy pink lips parted. Oh, the girl said, as if she had thought of something terrifically important, although what that was she did not say. He blinked, then remembered the girl was an idiot. He had found her on the internet, a few days before. The background of her MySpace page was deep purple and covered with clouds. A love song had started playing. Under Interests, she had put: I love networking and hanging out with friends, going to lunch and shopping at VERSACE! Going to Baptist and Evangelico churches with Harmony (REAL churches), getting stoned and writing down the lyrics to rap videos because they are so hilarious, and laughing at people who take porn too seriously! It's Fucking porn people. WE ALL DO IT!!! PS I like gang-bangs :) For a minute, he had sat at his desk, staring at the smiley face the girl had put at the end of that sentence, wondering what she had meant by that, what she was thinking when she had put that there. In her photo, she was standing on a balcony in a pale pink negligee, holding tight to the railing behind her as if a great gust of wind might blow her away. Something about the girl made him want to tear out his eyes and do unnamed things to her at the same time. Women had that affect on him.
-- from HAPPY

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?" Crawls Its Way Across the Globe

Recently, for reasons that remain unknown, my story on the adult movie industry and the recession, "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?", which I originally wrote for a publication but pulled in a fit of pique and decided to self-publish online for self-destructive reasons known only to my subconscious, has been trawling its way across the non-English speaking interwebs.

First, some French-speaking Canadians wrote about it. I understood the "superbe" part, no problem. One of my Canadian friends translated it for me, but the only part I remember is that they said I call a cat a cat. That's RIGHT, dammit. If I see a cat, I call it a cat. That's the kind of woman I am.

Then, some Germans got a hold of it. Somebody told me what they said, but I can't remember. Still, I learned a new word: "Pornoindustrie." Use that in casual conversation, win 10 points.

Finally, some Netherlandians who write for a site called Jaggle picked it up, which I guess is a pretty popular spot, as it sent a buttload of traffic. I don't know anyone who speakuzuh dah Deuytch, so I have no idea what it says, but how could you go wrong with "Mooi verhaal: iets met schieten enzo"? Nuff said.

Anyway, what did we learn here? No idea. Whatsoever.

[Image via This Isn't Happiness]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In My Other Life, I'm a Fashion Blogger

When I'm not complaining about my ongoing kidney stone saga, I spend my time contemplating all things fashion. So much vapidity, one can lose oneself in it.

On The Frisky, my post on a fashion layout that could put your eye out went viral.

I also wondered if Jimmy Choo ripped off a fashion blogger.

And then there was this guy, who pretty much ruined those heel-less Nina Ricci boots for me.

Elsewhere, Gaultier's fashion week show in Paris blew my mind. (Make sure to click on "View Full Screen" for full glory.) Valentino dazzled but was a bit inconsistent. And Dior was, well, Dior. Pat McGrath's faces were, as usual, awe-inspiring.

Recently, Jill Sherman, who runs one of my favorite fashion blogs, Trend de la Creme, blogged about being diagnosed with MS. Jill is awesome! She encourages you to donate to the National MS Society. Do it.

Over on my Twitter feed, I do a regular tweet called "Your Daily Shoe Porn." It just features a link to some fanastical pair of shoes or the other. Probably, I should turn that idea into a blog. Probably, I won't. Check out these Nicholas Kirkwood for Rodarte Corroded Brass Pumps. A mere $2,393! Sigh. A girl can dream.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Press Rewind One More Time

Check out my buddy Vinny B.'s latest music mix, delivered just for you readers: "Thump." He's got five on it! True story.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcome to Hell

Still dealing with this kidney stone bullshit. Move along. Nothing to see here but a pissed off chick who's been on the sofa for way too fucking long.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chasing the Dragon

"This term is a bit more complicated than merely 'smoking opium.' It starts when you have your first high, the world is peaceful, everything is perfect, you're numb, but in the best way possible. But, soon, it starts wearing off. Fast. Your mind races, you're pulled out of your dream world. You crave the drug more and more, wanting to feel the same way as you did on your first high. You go to the dealer and buy the same amount you had the first time, and smoke. Still feels good, but not as good as first time. You go and buy more. Closer, but not quite there. You're stuck, you don't know what to do. You want to go back to that little dream world and stay forever, but your body is already developing a tolerance. You panic. You use all your money to buy more and more and more, but still, not the same as that first time. You realize that you have no more money, so you start selling your things, pawning whatever could get you that next bag. Still, nothing compared to what you had on that first, magical time. So, you're broke and own nothing. But you don't care, all you care about is getting back to the first high. You start stealing, doing 'favors,' whatever gets you the money for the attempt. Your life becomes a living hell, all in search of a repeat of the first high. That's chasing the dragon."
-- Chasing the Dragon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

C'mon Get Happy!

Laying about, albeit working, on this sofa and waiting for my guts to -- What? I don't know. Something. -- I have been working on my novel sporadically, and got back into the swing of it a bit more today. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we aspire to write a novel.

This time, it feels different. Of course, that's what Carrie used to say every time she got back together with Big, but, you know, she meant it! And sometimes it was. Hey, they got their happy ending.

Compared to previous incarnations, this time the novel is more of an internal monologue. It's Molly Bloom meets ... hm. Jack the Ripper? Metaphorically speaking, of course. More like Jack Horner, maybe. Not really. Somebody I met, in reality.

I'm trying to write it as on point as possible, which isn't easy, but the thought of rewriting this thing forever is just, you know, not that appealing. The fact of the matter is that I'm a better (er?) short story writer than I am a novelist. (That is a hilarious understatement.) I'm a sprinter not a marathoner, dammit. Or so I have been told (by myself).

So, tell 60 short stories, I tell myself. One more brick in the road to Oz. Get with the program! After this internal dysfunction, I thought I better try to be nicer to myself. I've spent the last, oh, five years, beating myself up for a variety of things. It might behoove me to be nicer. It might, ya' know, help. And what would be the harm in that?

Anyway, it's his monologue, his stream of consciousness, so any literary failings? They're on him -- my main character. Dude, I'm just channeling. If it's fucked up, it's on him. And who's he? Oh, he's a bad, bad man, doncha know.

[Image via This Isn't Happiness]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Waiting Game

"The older you get, the fewer things you love." -- "The Hurt Locker"
I've been sitting around on this sofa waiting to get better for what seems like forever, and I'm about ready to claw my eyes out of my head. I've been working, waiting, and watching movies. If you haven't seen "The Hurt Locker," see it. It's just epic, and profound, and terrific.

One thing in the movie, especially at the end, is that it's, in part, about how some things ruin you, about how some people, in their lives, cross the line, and you see things that maybe not everybody else has seen, and something about what you saw reacted with your brain in a certain way, and, after that, nothing else was the same. In a way, experiences like that ruin you, because you're so damn high that everything else is a letdown, and sometimes you find yourself in some bullshit, banal, everyday situation, and you realize that you're lost in this onslaught of what is so fucking mundane, and you wonder if you're still alive, or if you died somewhere along the way, and this is all one long protracted dream you're having until the last neuron winks out in an instant. So, you put your foot on the gas pedal, or you turn your head, and your perspective changes, and then you think it's gone, but that's only until it comes back again.

That's what the Valley did: it ruined me and it spoiled me. It's like crack. How can you go back to shitty dope after that? So, you end up going back. Or, not everybody does, but you do, because there's something inside of you that wants the answer to the question, and every time you ask somebody else, do they know what's up with you?, nobody really has the answer, or not one they're willing to say, anyway, and so, you're like, fuck it, and then you're gone, because no one else gets it, so, you know, you might as well go, and so you do.

Now, my knee is jiggling, and my mind is wandering, and I'm stuck at a bus stop, and the bus keeps not coming, but, hey, that's probably how it goes, and, heck, I don't know, I guess somewhere between the hospital bed and here, I remembered who I was, I think, and decided maybe it's extra weird if you're a woman and like this, but, finally, after forever, I feel like I can't wait. Let's go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My New Column

Yeah, so, if you know me, or even if you don't, you know my day job is working for The Frisky, where I am an associate editor, or at least that's what my business card says. There, I do a few different things: write blog posts, do online outreach, work with partners, contemplate my navel, and work with girls who wear white fur coats.

This year, I'm trying to mix things up in a few new ways across the board. For example, on my own time, I'm doing my not-yet-announced-online-project, and I'm blogging at True/Slant. (I've been waylaid on moving forward on these things due to my unforeseen, unpleasant, ongoing tussle with kidney stones.)

At The Frisky, I'm going to be writing a new sex advice column. Want to submit a question? Send me your questions at susannah at the frisky dot com. Your identity will remain our dirty little secret.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Moving Forward

So, my buddy Chris Bishop has finished building the site for my next online project. He actually finished it the night I ended up in the ER a week ago, so things were a bit delayed by my, ah, trip to the hospital.

Now, it's on me. I'll set about collecting the content: taking photographs, doing interviews, transcribing, editing, uploading. I'm not sure when the launch date will be, but I'm hoping it will launch in the not too distant future.

It's been weird to be in this sort of limbo, finishing up what I worked on for many, many years, and now, finally, moving on to a new project that will take me in another direction. In my head, and sometimes to other people, I keep defining myself by the stuff I used to do. I'm looking forward to having somebody new to be.

Previously, I've been worried about the photographs I'll be taking for this project -- if they'll be good enough. Lately, that sounds more and more like bullshit. Maybe how good, or good it isn't, isn't really the point. Maybe the point is the curiosity, the question, the intention. Maybe that's enough. Maybe moving forward is more important than where I end up, because, right now, God knows where that will be.

Oh, and the site. It looks amazing. The Bishop rocks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Don't Like the Drugs (but the Drugs Like Me)

What I Ate This Week:

1. Soup
2. Crackers
3. Mashed potatoes
4. Ciprofloxacin
5. Hydrocodone
6. Codeine
7. Naproxen
8. Promethazine
9. Skelaxin
10. Whatever was in the IV

Thursday, January 14, 2010


[<--This is not my CAT scan.]

"And this is your vagina," says the man in the blue scrubs, pointing to the image on the screen. We're in the hospital room, in the emergency room, me in the bed in a smock. The meds have kicked in through the IV, so I reach out and smack him.

Then we go back to running through the images they got when they fed me into the CAT scan machine, the doughnut into which they stick you, and then, Hold your breath, the machine informs you, You can breathe now, the robot taking pictures of what's inside you reminds you, in case you forget.

On the screen, my black lungs appear and disappear, the white glowing pieces of my spine shine through and then vanish again, the little ivory stones in my kidneys present themselves as the problem.

I tell him, "If you like looking at women's vaginas on CAT scans, you'll love 'The Operation.'" Later, they take the needle out of my arm, I climb out of the bed, they hand me some drugs, and I drive myself home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to Write

"When I started writing properly I stopped trying to imitate and wrote just as simply as I could, without metaphor or simile, in the voice people use to tell their story to another person on the bus -- urgently, hastily, making sure you come to the point before the bus stops and the other person has to get off."
-- Petrushevskaya


I spent the night in the emergency room. I have kidney stones. Please send chocolates and male strippers, stat.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello There, Providence

"But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money--booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!'"

-- W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Wish I Was a Fashion Writer

Sometimes, I wish I was a fashion writer. All the girls are pretty, and mute, and thin as pins. It seems like it would have been so much easier if, say, 12 years ago, I'd gone there.

Google rules everything about me. It becomes this game of do I say or do I not say. I wonder what people think when they peruse the results.

I wish I had a hairdo like Minnie Mouse, temporary tattoos that turn my face into a dolla' dolla' bill y'all, the real right shade of red lipstick.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm Off the Record

Going into 2010, I don't have much in the way of concrete New Year's resolutions, other than, you know, "be less fat," "get off your ass," and "stop being such a nutcase," except that I do want to, ah, spread my wings, and venture into some new territories, and try some untried things.

I know this is shocking, but sitting around blogging about random crap does not get one taken very seriously. And serious! That is what I am now! Very, very serious! I cut like a knife. Or, you know, whatever. Actually, I drink a lot of tea, eat a lot of eggs, and don't go to yoga nearly enough.

In the spirit of taking myself more gravely, as it were, I've started a blog over at True/Slant: "Off the Record." I decided to call it that because a) I couldn't think of anything else, b) it sounded super-sexy, and c) I am totally into cheesy journalisms.

All joking aside, or at least taking a rest on the Lazy Susan in the middle of the table, I will, I hope, be doing some more serious reportage there. I'm really looking forward to it. If all goes well, when I spread my tiny new wings, I will not fall to my death and splat and break my neck on the pavement far, far below, but fly like, um, a bird, or whatever.

Anyway, follow me there. There's comments and everything! Thanks to the charming Coates Bateman for having me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You Write Like a Man

My best-friend, writer Lydia Netzer, weighs in on the latest literary feud: "The 'Best Books Of 2009' Controversy: Maybe Female Writers Just Aren't as Relevant as Men." So provocative that one.

Her post was inspired by this WaPo babble in which some chick-lit author named Julianna Baggott whines, and bellyaches, and tears down the drapes because there weren't enough women on some literary year-end list or the other. Basically, Baggott's point was that we only give credit to books written about manly themes. Like war. And something else that I can't remember. Probably violence. And if you're a lady writer who wants to get ahead, you have to not write about, like, vaginas, and pacifism, and how to bake bread. You have to write like a man. For a while, Baggott did that. Then she gave up and wrote chick lit or something. I am unclear. Whatever Baggott's life choices, they led her to bellyaching about book lists in the WaPo. Good one that.

Anyway, Netzer responds by pointing out with her characteristic endearing bluntness something along the lines of: "Tough titties, honey." Netzer tackles Chick Lit Author's attack of the lady-less list by wondering why the list features not-a-lot-of-women.
"The third possibility is more alarming than the others, because it is the simplest explanation, and therefore the most viable:

3. The list is right. The things that women write about are neither culturally nor historically significant, and the books that women write are not the best books."
Ha-ha! That is why I love her. She is never afraid to be an asshole.
"Maybe it's not about writing about 'man themes' but about human themes. Maybe it's not about pandering to the list, but evolving, as a gender, into people who address the important stuff, the big stuff: death, war, sex, adventure, as it pertains to women and men."
I, myself, am writing what Baggott would probably deem a "phallocratic" novel. It is nothing if not phallocentric. It is omniphallic, really. It's about a pornographer, it takes place inside of his head, and it is so inherently, relentless, obscenely misogynist that when Netzer read the first page of it, she opened her mouth and said one thing, and it was: "They are going to flay you alive." And by "they" she meant "feminists." Or, you know, "women." Or "people who like women."

Personally, I'd rather write like a man. After all, who would want to write like a woman? Then you'd never end up on a list.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Porn Star Karaoke: Updated

My friend filmmaker Alex Jablonski has created a beautiful, moving, and riveting must-see short documentary on porn star karaoke night, which takes place regularly at Sardo's in the Valley.
"There's a turmoil, there's a fight against yourself, there's a fight of good and evil, there's a fight of right and wrong, there's a fight of everything that's inside of you."
"Porn Star Karaoke."

Update: Alex wrote a thoughtful and insightful blog post about the making of this short, including what footage they didn't use and why, what happened when they visited a young woman at her apartment in the Valley, and a conversation he and I had regarding the piece.
Me: I think I’m actually suffering trauma from this whole experience.

SB: Laughs.

Me: I’m not joking.

SB: I know, it’s just, “Welcome to the club.”
"Episode 3."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Best Online Writing 2009

BSC Review says my essay on the adult movie industry and the recession, "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?", was among the best online writing in 2009.
Breslin is on fire with this piece, nailing the micro and the macro of the porn business and bringing out more facets and emotions of that industry than most were probably aware of. A sensitive and nuanced portrait of something often seen but rarely understood.
Thanks, BSC.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello, 2010

Today, Chris Bishop designed the special project that I'm doing. It was so neat to see an idea turned into something concrete. And then watching as he tweaked and fiddled with it to make it even more interesting than it already was.

I must say, having a concept in your head turned into something real is a really pretty wonderful feeling. Especially, as it goes when working with Bishop, when that thing that it becomes is even better than you ever imagined it could be.

Next step? CB will go into building mode, and I will go into content mode. Like I said previously, I'm somewhat intimidated by this project, especially the taking photos part, as I'm a far more experienced journalist than I am a photographer, and this project asks me to step up to the plate in terms of being a shooter.

Probably, the content will turn out to be something other than what I expect anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing what that will be.

[Image via This Isn't Happiness]