Friday, October 08, 2010

Once There Was This Discarded Note I Found...

Once, as a wee bairn of maybe 11 or 12 years of age, while walking along an unfamiliar street with my gang of hoodlums, we spied a discarded scrap of paper along the way. Nine hundred and ninety nine times out of a thousand, I leave the scrap where it lies. But for some reason, on this day, something inside me says "pick it up and read it." Having learned the hard way what happens when I ignore the voices in my head, I picked that scrap up and read it.

It wasn't addressed to anyone specific and no individuals were mentioned by name, but this little scrap of paper told a dramatic story of lust, betrayal, greed and larceny. I was transfixed. I clearly knew none of these people, but the anger and hostility leaped off the page in a way that it didn't matter whether I knew them or not. I wanted to know more, what happened next, whether the one "bitch ho" was going to get her due comeuppance for stealing the other "bitch ho"'s boyfriend or not.

Alas, I never did find out, as the note was incomplete.

As I read through Nuts 4 Fruits, I felt some of those same stirrings of having read a lovely story about whom I knew nothing, really. Even after reading hundreds of posts, I still do not really know all that much about our intrepid author. I can infer many things, but these inferences may very well be wrong. I know that the author is female, lives in Toronto, wants to be a hermit, and has had a long-distance relationship for seven years. I suspect that she once lived in Africa, at times lives with or near her mother (referred to in these pages merely as "The Survivor"), and takes vacations with her significant other (referred to in these pages as "The Phantom"). I assume she is in her (early?) thirties. And I believe that she works in statistics or data processing or something.

Oh, and she seems to really like shopping at Ikea. And she's a non-militant vegetarian type. That is, until very recently.

She speaks vaguely of dark times in the past, but aside from mentioning that they were there, and implying somehow that the Survivor is called the Survivor somehow because of the survival of these dark times, she does not speak of them at all. Like 'The One Who Must Not Be Named,' she speaks OF the dark times, but not ABOUT the dark times. (And today I am finding it difficult to locate specific references to these times. Dammit, I should have written this down.)

I am left with merely the impression of a person. A shadow of a human life. And I desperately want to know more. I want to know why she chose to be a vegetarian, or if it was even a choice. I want to know why she lives in Toronto when she clearly despises the cold. I want to know why it makes sense for The Phantom to be living in Texas while she lives in Toronto. I want to know more about the sort of relationship that starts with enough trust that the Phantom allows her to spy on him all the time via a webcam and yet seems to shy away from the label "relationship."

I don't get these answers.

Instead, I get the mundane, day-to-day life of a young woman rendered somewhat sublime through the written word. Many posts, maybe half of them, read like a stream of consciousness William Carlos Williams poem. Accessible, yet perfectly capturing the feelings and essences of a moment. I can almost feel the breezes, smell the scents, taste the foods.

The other half of the posts? Meh. "What I bought at Ikea." Or, "here's the code I used in R to make this graph."

In my last review, I talked about what I look for in the writing that I read. What I said:

Do you expand my mind? Do I find myself longing to read just one more post? Do you turn a phrase in a new and fresh way that causes me to look anew upon the mundane and everyday?

Guess what. This nutty fruit (or should I say fruity nut?) does just that. About half of the time. I started way back at the very beginning, and each post was a short sweet little breath or glimpse of what that particular moment in time felt like and seemed like. She captured the essence artfully. Avoiding cliches. And I just kept reading, more and more, like a good book I just couldn't put down. Until I was done and looking at the most recent post.

And I loved her for it. About half of the time.

This is not to say that she is all that and a bag of crackers. Henry David Thorough once famously stated something about the majority of people living a life of quiet desperation, and it seems at times as though our intrepid hermit is doing just that. And as much as it goes against my grain to suggest that my review of a blog should be taken as a review of someone's life, reading posts about wistful regrets over choices made (mind you, choices that I can't say for sure I ever really understood, as she never lays out what options were really there), brought to mind a line from The Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy living or get busy dying."

I would love for her to get busy living.

And, as much as I love the way she captures a moment, some semblance of a framework to hang those moments on would be useful and helpful as well. I mean, crap, she's even blocked the viewing of her Blogger profile. I just spent the last 5 years with her, and I still don't know what to call her, what race she is, or why she loves to visually chart data.

So quit being so damn coy.

Okay. That's it.

Now here's the real shocker. The rating. Three stars.

Give me some framework and start chasing those dreams, and leave what you bought at Ikea to your Facebook profile, and you'll shoot right up to four stars or even maybe an "I Fucking Love You." Because, I do. In fits and starts. But not consistently enough to earn that as an overall rating.


  1. Thank you for this unexpectedly kind review. The best I hoped for was the short bus stamp. Your insight gives me shivers (or I'm just that transparent). I function in halves by default: half of me wants to drown those pixels with the darkness inside, half cowers under the burden of truth and spews out crappy posts about irrelevant trips to IKEA. Inconsistent, superficial and skittish. And I weep as I read your line "I would love for her to get busy living". Me too, so much...

  2. See? Even her comment is weirdly cool. Meh. Makes me feel like such a try-hard.

  3. What's up with you and weekend reviews?

  4. I have that same ambivalent feeling towards a lot of the people I've reviewed lately. Come to think of it, I have that feeling about a lot of things in my life right now.

  5. She kind of lulls you in. There's nothing funny or outrageous or maddening, but I read several posts and, like you, have no idea who she is. I believe that your advice to "get busy living" is spot on.

  6. Nice. Two reviews of _good_ work right in a row. Kinda makes up for the lull there. :)

    I am addicted to reviews.

  7. Her post on Bukowski

    seems to describe exactly what you were looking for and do not find.

    As HIF said, she lulls you in. Me too. I found myself strangely unable to muster up any crow bar or pumpkin muffin comments. That's always a good sign.

  8. Sorry, I meant to post this sooner. a link from my heart to yours:

    I've tried to get away from the half-baked, no frame scenarios but failed thus far. Don't know if I'm unwilling or unable to do it.


Grow a pair.