Archive for July, 2010

July 13, 2010

She Wasn’t Always Like This

That’s what I wanted to call my new book. But the professionals—my agent, my editor and others at the publisher—all thought Stalker Girl was the better choice. Short and to the point, they said. No one would wonder what it was about.

Maybe. I acquiesced, deferred to the pros.

But to me, “She wasn’t always like this” captures the heart of the story better. It’s the opening sentence in one of the book’s early chapters. We’ve already met Carly, the Stalker Girl, in full-blown stalking mode and now we’re about to learn who she is and why she’s following her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend around the streets of Manhattan.

Carly wasn’t always a stalker, and she hopefully won’t always be a stalker.

But right now, she’s seventeen and her first serious boyfriend has not only dumped her, he’s found a new girlfriend in what seems to Carly to be a pretty short time.

Who wouldn’t be just a little bit curious?

Who wouldn’t at least try to find out what the girl looked like?

Who wouldn’t start comparing themselves to the new girl?

Who can say definitively that they would never do the things Carly ends up doing in this book?

To me, “She Wasn’t Always Like This” conveys the idea that we can never know what acts we’re capable of, be they admirable or embarrassing.

July 11, 2010

We Have a Winner

The prize for the Best Stalker Story goes to Rachael Larose, who, like Carly in Stalker Girl, stepped out from behind the computer for real, live, in-person stalking.

I was vacationing in Florida, at the mall with my grandma, when I noticed a dashing young man walking by with two fellows at his
side. We made eye contact, he smiled, and I swooned.I kept glancing back until he disappeared into a store that sold sunglasses. I wasn’t focused on the name of the store, just the boy. I turned to my grandma and told her I would be right back. She smiled and told me she’d meet up with me later. I nodded, not paying attention, and scurried away to the store with sunglasses. Of course,as soon as I entered, he left. He caught my eye and I had another swoon moment as he exited.

For the next hour and a half, I followed this boy, entering every store he was in. He once bumped into me, and apologized. I was so embarassed because what I said in return was “you…it’s…eyes-I mean, it’s okay”. He gave me a funny look, grinned, and left. I followed him into one more store when my grandma found me and took me to lunch. My head was still spinning.

Congratulations, Rachael!

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July 9, 2010

This Week in Patronizing Male Reviews of Women’s Art

I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Kids are All Right since hearing about its debut at Sundance. It’s out this week, getting reviewed positively everywhere.  The Times’s A.O. Scott says it’s “the best comedy about an American family since …” Because it is without precedent, he decides to “let the superlative stand unqualified for now.” He praises director and screenwriter Lisa Cholodenko for the way she “blends the anarchic energy of farce — fueled by coincidences and reversals, collisions and misunderstandings — with a novelistic sensitivity to the almost invisible threads that bind and entangle people.”

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle calls it “rich and psychologically truthful work.” Fresh Air’s David Edelstein considers the political implications:

Cholodenko has a female partner and a child, and in a political climate hostile to gay families it must be hard for her even to suggest that two moms might not be enough. But she’s a true dramatist. She tests what is presumably her own design for living; she bombards it with every satirical weapon in her arsenal. Then she picks up the pieces and rebuilds.

Reading and hearing these reviews today confirmed the unease I felt reading Anthony Lane’s New Yorker review last night. Lane loves the movie, too. But his review is marred by strange and patronizing assumptions about the director/screenwriter’s intentions. After noting that California of TKAA “is a greener, gayer update of the California that Woody Allen took such perfect potshots at, more than thirty years ago, in ‘Annie Hall,'” he declares that “Cholodenko doesn’t always know that it is funny.”


He goes on to tell us more about Cholodenko’s intentions

She wants us to laugh at Paul’s initial response when he learns of the family setup . . . and she rightly notes the casual, bantering racism of the liberal bourgeoisie . . .

Then he asks whether

the screenwriters not realize that half of the women’s conversation—”We just talked conceptually,” “It hasn’t risen to the point of consciousness for you,” “It’s so indigenous!”—is pure, extra-planetary prattling and nothing but? The prattle turns chronic when Jules, who fancies herself as a landscape designer, is hired by Paul to reshape his back yard; she suggests “a trellisy, hidden garden kind of thing,” or, alternatively, “you could go with the Asiany.”

The assumed answer to this patronizing question is no.  Cholodenko and her co-writer share their characters’ lack of self-awareness.

Is it me or is this the second patronizing review of a woman’s work from a major publication this week?

July 6, 2010

Facebook Stalking, Summer School Stalking, and One from a Stalkee

What not to say: “I know where you live.” Anon learned that the hard way:

My story also includes the internet. I was in total swoon-mode after I met him at a football game, so I asked for his e-mail– from there I added him on facebook, checked out all his personal details and spent the next few hours just googling and searching out what I could find out about him. His address and mobile phone were on his fb details (and still are, despite this). So, I added him, and then quickly messaged him. After a week or two of msn chats, phone calls, etc, I told him, as a joke, his house was close to mine (like, out of the blue, and he didn’t mention it at all). THAT freaked him out, and I never heard from him again. Hey, it was on his facebook details!

Paige also finds Facebook a great stalking ground:

I saw this girl on facebook. She knew a lot of my friends from my school, but she didn’t go there. I went to her profile page and kinda creeped around trying to figure out who she was. She had a very…unique last name. I ended up going to her profile so much, I learned about her dad and his job, and also her brother and sister. My step-sister came over one day and started telling us about her new boyfriend. She mentioned his last name and I instantly recognized it. I asked if his sister had just graduated and if his dad was a coach. My whole family was like, “Do you know her?”. It was really embarrassing when I had to reply, “I kinda stalked her on facebook…..” and then proceeded to tell them about her boyfriend (past and present) and the fact her birthday was the next day.

E takes the long way, just to get a glimpse:

I’m currently a high school sophomore (going to be a junior) in summer school. Since freshman year I’ve had this crush on a junior whose name I don’t even know. I don’t really try to find out what’s his name, but I keep wanting to see his smile. So I go and take the long way to my classes just to be in the same hallway with him to get a chance to see him smile. Right now he’s in my P.E class in my summer school, and
Monday-Friday, for 2 hours per day I get to see his smile. *melt*

While the competition is limited to stalker stories, today we have a glimpse from the stalkee‘s side. While the guy’s behavior does sound slightly scary, our stalkee readily admits that “It is kinda fun to make him jealous now when i’m having a bad day though!”

From “nostalkerswanted!!!”

ok..i know this doesnt count because i was the stalkee, but i thought i’d share it anyway. This guy i thought i liked, but didn’t, asked me out to the school dance- which i never go to. I said yes but then I realized i just wanted a bf, and that i didnt really like him. I had 2 classes with him, one of which i sat next to him, and i ignored him in school. but one day he ran up to me, and in front of everyone said:”I can’t do this thing alone.” I was thinking, wtf is he talking about?? So i told him i wasn’t going to the dance with him and walked away. After that day I saw him looking at me all the time, he was always somewhere, he got his friend to talk to me thinking i wouldnt know, and he facebooked me at least 4 times before i finally blocked him. Very creepy. It is kinda fun to make him jealous now when i’m having a bad day though!

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July 1, 2010

Driving, Walking, Stalking

Today we have pen names!

From “Gemini”

I’d seen her feed the meter so I knew her car: a red, beat-up Sentra. When she pulled out of her spot, I followed, keeping what I thought was a good distance.. When she got gas, I circled the block until she was done. When she stopped for groceries, I parked a few rows over and waited. When she pulled into the small lot of a video store, I circled that block a few times. When she still hadn’t come out, I pulled in and decided to accidentally/on-purpose bump into her inside the store. I’d finally get up the nerve to start a conversation. Movies would be a perfect topic! Then the next day we could talk more at the café. But before I’d even gotten out of the car she came out of the store, holding hands with a guy I call Badmohawk Boy. She didn’t even glance my way.

This writer says to call her “Sancho”

Not sure this counts as stalking. But I did follow a guy for about ten blocks once.

The summer between my junior and senior year I got a job at an ice cream shop in my medium-sized city. I worked from 12-5. Every day at 5, I’d walk to the bus stop and see this same guy walking the other way. He was older—probably in college, I thought. He was tall and good-looking and he wore a tie. One day we made eye contact and he smiled at me. The next day eye contact, smile and chin lift.. It went like that for a few more days and then I got eye contact, smile, chin lift and a “hey.” It got so I couldn’t wait for the end of my shift, not because I got to stop working, but because I’d get to see him. Each day I imagined him stopping and turning and introducing himself. But he never stopped, never slowed down. One day, without really thinking about it, I stopped and turned around and followed him. I stayed about twenty feet behind. After about three blocks I started to notice that a lot of girls and women were smiling, nodding and lifting their chins. This guy greeted every remotely good-looking female between the ages of 17 and, oh, about 25. Some of them went on smiling after the encounter just like I had. On their faces I could see he’d made them feel special, too.

At the time I was disappointed. I felt cheated. But looking back, I think he must’ve been a sweet person.

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