’80s Basement Lecture Series, 18 Feb 2017: Satire

About a month ago I was feeling nostalgic about NYC, as I sometimes do, and I remembered that my friend Brook started a lecture series there where she would invite various experts to talk about their specialties. It all started in her living room with a small group then grew into an impressive crowd. She called it the Living Room Lecture Series.

This memory sparked in me a desire to copy her. I texted some friends to see what they thought:

Hey, friends! I’m thinking of starting a quarterly lecture series at my house. Maybe 20-minute talks, followed by discussion and treats. The lectures would come from us and cover a variety of topics. Reilly could talk about Family Guy, Maddie could discuss writing copy or songs, Kylie poetry or Ndichie, Jon film, etc. You don’t have to lecture if you don’t want to. Does this sound fun? Would you support this?

The replies:

  • OH MY HELL. I would ADORE THIS.
  • I strongly support this message.
  • YES!
  • If kids are welcome I’m totally interested. We used to do something similar in DC and I love that kind of thing! Also I’m also interested without the kid. Both ways, totally interested.

So we set a date and time, which was February 18 at 7:30pm. I thought about holding these meetings in our basement, which has wood paneling and strange patchy brown carpet from the ’80s. I decided to call this thing the ’80s Basement Lecture Series. Genius, I know.

This past Saturday the guests arrived, and we gave them a tour of our home. Then we ate some pizza and got really drunk. JUST KIDDING THERE WAS NO PIZZA. Just kidding, we had a lot of pizza and zero alcohol.

We headed down to the basement. I introduced Reilly, and he gave a terrific lecture about satire and its evolution on television over the past 30 years. He defined indirect and direct satire, using Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as examples. He hinted a quick comparison of Tomi Lahren and Samantha Bee. He showed clips from the Simpsons and Parks and Recreation. We had a fascinating discussion about the current political climate and people who don’t get satire. And we discussed the purpose of satire: in what ways does it motivate us to act/speak/think? It was a lot of fun.

I looked at the group of us and wondered: Are THESE the people I like hanging out with, slightly strayed, slightly jack-Mormon AND incredibly faithful, moderate-to-left-leaning, super smart, extremely big-hearted; socially conscious, ever eager agents of change to make the world a better place?

Yes, YES.  A frillion times yes.

The conversation, their presence, their intelligence and spirit: I basked in it all.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s great bringing people together to share ideas and foster and strengthen friendships. But I may have started this lecture series just for me. Selfish little me.

Can’t wait for the next meeting.

I Should Love Abdoulaye Wade

This thought kept crossing my mind during church today, all three hours, in between wanting to pull my hair out and silently disagreeing with everything everyone was saying. And, in between texts. Yes, during church. Judge me already.

This thought surprised me, and I struggled with it.

I’m struggling with it.

A Little Text Savvy

Me, to a guy friend:  Would any of your hot [distinguishing quality] friends be interested in going out?

Guy friend: They will have to ask their wives or [girlfriends]? There might be one though. Why who is asking?

Me: Just me. I haven’t been on a date in a while. 🙂

Guy friend: Well, we can fix that in a few weeks. This [sic] next two weeks are pretty intense.

Me: You’re a stud. Good luck with everything the next couple of weeks.

Now all I need to do is find someone to go out with in the meantime.

A Compromise

Well, I guess the world now knows I can survive a whole week without chatting and texting. Not really much of an accomplishment; probably ticked a lot of you off. Better yet, a lot of you probably didn’t even notice. And that just goes to show how much or highly I think of myself. One’s world is awfully lonely when it’s egocentric.

Starting Friday, July 30, I’ll allow myself to send 35 texts a week. That’s five texts a day.

Two hours of chat a day. It may not be at the same time every day. It may be split up throughout the day.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to you.

Quite the opposite, actually.

Day Four

Yeah, four full days. With texting, I’ve found not too much of a difference. I’ve always texted more than received texts, but that’s because I’m pretty nosy and annoying. I understand that screening texts is far less guilt-inducing than screening calls. For me, it’s also considerably less offensive, just because the frequency of my texting can reach ultra-obnoxious levels. I’m very aware of this. Also, people have lives of their own and usually can’t be bothered. Besides, I don’t text more than a handful of people on a regular basis. If the news is urgent or important enough, an actual phone call will occur. Just last week I rang a couple of friends to tell them about the flash fiction contest. It was cool.

About a month and a half ago, I mass-texted a bunch of people I haven’t spoken to in a while, something like: “Hey, just checking in. Hope you’re well.” One of those people ended up calling me, and we talked and laughed for half an hour and arranged to meet for dinner later in the month.

Not chatting is a little more difficult, but it’s getting easier.  Before, I would click on a person’s name just to say hi, even though I have nothing to talk about. The brief contact is fun. The instant gratification has spoiled me.

Same thing goes, here: I’ll just send an email. If I’m not near a computer, I’ll call and leave a message.

If the person is busy, the email can sit. The phone call can wait.

If the person doesn’t use email, I’ll call. Or I’ll write an actual letter with paper and pen.

I’m reverse-plowing into the 20th Century: linear time can suck it.

I’ll ride out the rest of the week. Then I might consider cutting back with texting. Having entire conversations via my thumbs sounds more absurd every day. People don’t really need my texting as much as I’ve needed to text. But then again, this need is progressively decreasing.

Three weeks would change the habit. Hmm. If I can do one week, I can do two; if I can do two, I can do three. We’ll see.

I may resume chatting completely, however. I’ve dispensed/received advice and discussed papers/stories/etc. pretty effectively this way. Still, it’s nothing an email or phone call couldn’t achieve.

Am I alienating myself by doing this? No more so than usual.

Status as of 26/07/2010

I broke down and sent one text this morning, about 30 minutes ago. It was more or less to confirm plans for Thursday night. An old French classmate and I are going to see her voice teacher / my friend from New York City perform in a production of 110 in the Shade at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. I’ve already heard this girl sing – I know she can wail – but I haven’t seen her on stage. I’m very excited. I missed the run when Audra McDonald performed, but I already saw her last summer in Twelfth Night in Central Park for Shakespeare in the Park. She’s lovely. And she’s perfect in the film production of Wit with Emma Thompson. I’ve tried to get a few of you to see this film with me – I own it and everything – to no avail. It’s an amazing film. Sure, it’s depressing as hell, but very well done.

A few people texted me this weekend, and I didn’t respond. Sorry about that. I usually send about 10 messages for every three or four I receive. I did make up for it by leaving a few messages and talking on the phone with a friend for over an hour. It was hard leaving my phone alone, but I figure if I can last this week without texting, I might give it up for lent. I prefer human voices and somewhat thoughtful emails. Kind of takes me back to 1996 when my life was so, so much simpler.

Another short story is in the works. I’m at 3,300 words, and it feels about 60% done.

Oh. I’m having a crisis of faith.

There’s that.

One Point Bulletin

While I was studying during the devotional last hour, I decided to send out this text, at which time I did not know would turn into a survey:

Something about being in a study cubicle makes me want to sleep.

And in came a few responses:

-Yeah, isn’t study ‘cubicle’ another term for ‘sleep pod’?

-Something about cubicles makes me want a popsicle

-Something about being at my job makes me want to slit my throat.

-Something about life makes me want to sleep.

Then, a separate conversation:

-There’s just something about being inside a perfect square that is by nature sedative!

May-Zzz… There aren’t drug tests for cubicle sedatives, are there?  I’d fail miserably.

-I believe the best way to rid yourself of any trace in the ole system is to do forty five jumping jacks … ready go!

May-I did mini ones in my chair while visualizing real ones. When I do jumping jacks they seem mini, but they are not. Awake now. Thanks!

-That’s what I do, whenever you have difficulties in staying awake … I’ll be there!

May-Slightly problematic, only because I’m trying to stifle outbursts of laughter. I have a feeling this is typical of you. 🙂

-O i dunno:) i suppose i do like to see slash imagine smiles on people’s faces. And if giggles are having to be stifled i’m glad of heart!

-No wonder you have many friends and admirers the world over. Yay, you!

-I do not believe I’d go that far! Perhaps one day the world over. But i believe that even more renown and even sooner will be your name.

May-I’m much quieter in my approach to the world. I prefer smaller groups and individuals. Maybe someday, but not for a long, long time.

-In a different field perhaps to. Which leads to my next cliche but sincere question. What are you studying?

May-English. Going into creative writing. I hope. What about you?

-Creative writing?? I’m very intrigued, i would be interested in seeing some of your work! I write a little myself, but my major which i haven’t declared is biz.

May-Just started my major. I have pieces of different personal projects. We should trade stuff sometime for feedback if you’re okay with that.

-I think it’s a great idea! I love getting and fishing feedback for these types of things, you could tell me what you think of some tunes i have too?

May-You’ve struck a chord – pun! – with two of my biggest interests. I don’t know as much about songwriting, but i can tell you what i like and why. 🙂

May-When will you declare your major?

-What do you like and why?? And I’ll be declaring it within the next couple months.

May-I have to listen to your tunes first. 🙂 i’m usually pretty open minded if i can tell you’re conscientious. I can appreciate the process.

-Very well 🙂 i will tell ya i’m making a conscious effort with my songs which are almost exclusively half done haha 🙂

May-I’m sure you sound great. Lyrics, Melodies. Chord progressions. Integrating everything into one solid song. You know you’ve got it. 🙂

-i dunno i think it’s ok considering my novice level of expertise 🙂 so what kind of stuff do you write about?

May-I do some short fiction and narrative nonfiction, e.g. essays. Nothing really complete yet. Working on it, though. 🙂

-I bet you’re gonna go somewhere with it, or really whatever you end up doin, i’m no fortune cookie, but it’s a vibe i get for sure 🙂

Also, I happened to get a lot of reading done for class.  I organized some research for a paper and reviewed an author’s biography and considered its effect on my reading of one of her short stories.

I promise.

Oh. I got some feedback for a midterm I took a couple weeks ago. We took part of the exam in class, then we had to take part of it home. We had to perform a close reading on a poem and discuss how the formal elements contribute to the meaning, according to a New Critic’s perspective. Our instructor gave us a 1000 word limit, and I while I kept it around 800 words, I turned it in hoping I did a thorough job.

So I checked my email this morning, and my inbox presented:

This is a fantastic response. You show the complexities of the poem, including formal elements & content contrasting with the ballad form, and how the poem resolves these complexities. You completed a close reading of the poem that demonstrates your ability to analyze poetic devices. My only correction is to this line: “because this is a ballad, the New Critic expects consistent rhythm and meter.” They would look at how well the poem meets the expectations of the form (the ballad), but they would also expect that there would be substitutions (in meter) and variations in form. This is what helps contribute to meaning. You resisted–like most people in our class–coming up with a single reading of the poem, but remember that the strictest New Critics would have done so, and they would have argued for their reading. Overall, you did a fantastic job. I am continually impressed by your precision, your ability to analyze and reason through things, and your sense of ethics. I appreciate your comments in class and am glad you are among us. Thank you.

Not perfect, but great. And my instructor’s feedback, in addition to being unexpected, was truly helpful, and incredibly validating. I’m precise! I can analyze and reason! I have a sense of ethics! – And that part she drew from a comment I made the first day I attended her class. She remembers me! Yippee!

This may be enough to get me through the rest of the semester.

Part of Yesterday

The following is a text message conversation that recaps a lighter side of my yesterday. Yesterday was a lot to handle. Paragraph breaks distinguish between speakers. I can’t believe I thumb-tapped those responses on the number pad of my unsmart phone. I’m just bummed this friend is so sad. Life is so hard sometimes.

… Since you’re up. Let me ask. Was I a crappy listener?

You listened well. That was a lot of your appeal.

Mmm perhaps I’ve changed?

Possible. Don’t overanalyze. You also do that well.

Lol yes I do. I just can’t wrap my head around why she is so angry w me now. How it changed so fast and how everything is now my fault and I don’t hear her.

I surmise she’s really inside herself and not rational with her grief. It needs time. Don’t get sucked in.

Why does she get mad that I’m not letting go emotionally right now? [I]m a loyal person. I’m respecting boundries just haven’t totally fallen out of love.

Because it adds to her guilt.

Why does that make her mad and then she tells me to go on a date?

Just because she doesn’t want you doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt her or that she knows how to move on yet.

Why would she feel guilt?

Because you’re hurt. There’s always guilt to some degree.

But she professes she wants her independence. She doesn’t like feeling caged?

She knows what she wants, sure, but getting there is different. And really tough after a breakup. You’ll both be in limbo a while.

I just don’t get it. I can’t accept it. It doesn’t make complete sense.

You’re not going to get it for a while. That’s normal. You’ll get through it.

How can the opinion of friends and society be worth more than love?

Hard, constant battle to fight. That’s just how some people see it.

I want to get angry and spiteful w her but I just can’t. I can’t be fake and pretend I don’t care.

Process it however you need to.

It is what it is. If others don’t get it f em. Who is anyone to judge? We are all human

Now you’re getting somewhere.

Sorry I went off. Just a hard day I guess.

Don’t be sorry. What you’re going through isn’t easy or simple.

Sigh yeah. Thanks for listening…Didn’t mean to overload you there.

I can take it. 🙂

Im sure.

We Interrupt This Blog to Announce

Brigham Young University of the Provo, Utah has officially admitted me as a student.

I’m set to attend Winter Semester, 2010.

***
Of course I sent out a mass text. If I missed you, I deeply apologize.

Here are the replies I received so far, in the order they came:
-May! That’s so great! And you didn’t even have to beat anyone up!!!
-Woo!
-That’s so great! Congratulations!
-Holy sh..! Congrats!
-Yay!!!!!!!! Congrats!!!!!!!!
-Congrats!
-Yay! When are you moving to utah? Let me know if you need a ride from the airport.
-Who is this sorry i lost my phone
-Yea!!!!!
-SWEET! When do you go?
-Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When do you head off then?
-We were just talking about you
-Yayayayayayaya
-One more credit!
-Congrats! That’s awesome!
-CongratULATIONS! Although you will be missed around here-
-Congratulations! What program and when do you start? I want to start the MBA program next fall. Maybe we’ll be cougars together!
-Congrats!
-Sweet omgosh have fun!!!!!
-Aw! Congratulations! I’m with [other former seminary students] they say hi
-Congrats! Now go get that scholarship! I know you can!
-Yay!! Soon we can play again!
-Of course you are! They’re lucky to have you! CONGRATULATIONS May!
-For grad school?
-Sweet. I cant wait. We can hang out at Hoogie [sic] yogi together. Its like the rosa mexicana of the west
-IMA HPY for YOU!
-That’s exciting you’re heading back to school. Congratulations!

I’m so grateful for everyone’s support. I love you all.