LAZIDAISICAL blogs and twitters and tumbles about vandalism, drinking, parenting, novel writing, more. Currently editing her first novel.
LAZIDAISICAL: I will start by saying that these are all very eerie questions. They somehow triggered responses that are pretty much soul-baring. I typically shy away from baring my soul. I had to drink as I answered them. But I signed up for this because I was beyond curious to know what kinds of questions you would ask, and was sure they would be inspiring. So thank you very much for the opportunity.
HUNT: What kind of drink did you have? Just curious.
LAZIDAISICAL: Alaskan Ale. I’m currently obsessed with regional beers and microbrewed beers. We discovered Alaskan Ale on a trip to Seattle in January. I think it’s scrumptious, soft, and smooth. Being from that area, you have probably had it before, so I’ll say I was drinking it in honor of this interview. Smiley face.
HUNT: What were you like in the 6th grade? Are you the same now, or different? Or the same and different at the same time? Did you want to write novels when you were a teenager?
LAZIDAISICAL: Yes, I wanted to write novels as a teenager. I did write novels as a teenager. It’s creepy that you should specifically mention sixth grade. Over the course of sixth and seventh grade, I wrote a novel about a teen girl who was terribly obsessed with a young movie star and, as a result, couldn’t function normally in social situations. She was on her school’s volleyball team and would daydream about him during important games so, of course, she couldn’t concentrate on playing and everyone started hating her for all the mistakes she made on the court. At sleepovers, while everyone was sitting in a circle with their stuffed animals, giggling about meaningless shit, my character would be underneath a big blanket inconspicuously masturbating to explicit sexual fantasies of her dream guy. This novel unintentionally began spiraling out of control. The character inexplicably started wanting to kill people who said her beloved movie star wasn’t cute, and stuff like that. Eventually, the whole school begins to hate her because she acts like a deranged bitch, and her parents even consider sending her to a reform-type school to set her straight. With nothing left to stick around for, she steals her parents’ car and somehow makes it out to LA from wherever it was she lived, and she finds him signing autographs and taking photos with fans at some event. Acting out of debilitating jealousy, she attacks twin girls while they are taking a picture with him. The movie star screams for his body guards to get her away from him, and that breaks her heart. So she starts to attack him with a pair of scissors that just so happen to be on his autograph-signing table. His body guards end up having to shoot her.
Over the course of ninth and tenth grade, I wrote an “alternate ending”, if you will, to this novel. In the alternate version, my character and the movie star fall madly in love and he becomes more obsessed about her than she ever was about him. He becomes violently jealous if she so much as looks at another person. It gets to the point where he keeps her locked up in his dressing room all day and she is not allowed to interact with anyone. At first, she thinks his obsession is romantic, but soon gets bored of his attention and starts to go mad in that little room. She manages to sneak out though, and she brings one of his co-workers into the dressing room with her one day. She calculates her actions just right so that she and the co-worker are having sex when the movie star returns. The movie star goes berserk and gets violent, so in “self-defense” my character ends up “accidentally” killing him.
I ended up with Cs in my English and Reading classes in sixth grade because I refused to write about what they wanted me to write about. When my teachers assigned homework papers, I’d scowl and say, “That’s a boring thing to write about. I’m gonna write about something else instead” and I’d end up getting detention. And when they’d talk to my mom about my unruliness, she’d just shrug and say she couldn’t force me to write about that stuff if I didn’t want to. In seventh grade, my class was supposed to write our feelings about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but I wrote about Wuthering Heights instead. In eighth grade, the principal demanded I write an apology note to an idiot English teacher that I had talked shit to in front of the entire class. My apology note said I refused to apologize for acting in a way that society has forced my race to act. My first semester of college, I was supposed to write about Romanticism in literature, but, instead, I turned in a copy of an essay I’d written for Astronomy that romanticized black holes and supernovas and suggested that humans should live their lives as though they are doomed stars. These are just a few examples.
In fact, let me jump back in time to when I was an innocent little first grader. That’s when my earliest memory of writing took place. One day, I was mad at my first grade teacher because she had asked me to please stop raising my hand and let my fellow classmates have a chance at reading aloud. I became increasingly agitated listening to them read because I didn’t understand why they didn’t understand how to sound words out correctly. In order not to lose my mind, I started scribbling obscenities about all of them on the inside cover of one of my folders. That night, as I was taking a bath, my mom suddenly came into the restroom holding open my folder. She had been looking for my homework assignments, but found “Mrs. Shaw is a stupid fucking bitch. She hasn’t taught these assholes how to read,” etc etc etc, “So-and-so should go back to fucking kindergarten.” The berating went on and on towards quite a few students. My mom firmly stated that what I’d written wasn’t nice and wasn’t appropriate, but I could tell by the way she was trying not to laugh that she thought her baby girl was a genius.
Writing all of these memories makes me feel kind of strange because I realize that my current writing still includes many of the same themes that my early writings had. I still make mostly negative observations about everyone around me. I speculate about what made them the way they are and why. Character development is always an integral part of my short stories and novels. That being said, I guess deep down inside I must really be the same now as I was in the sixth grade, or any other grade. Any “growing up” that may have taken place has only served to strengthen and justify the negative notions I’ve had my whole life about people, society, and the world.
HUNT: A theme I find interesting throughout your answer is 'appropriateness.' This idea of how to be appropriate in society, in interactions between unequal partners (teacher/student) or among equal partners (fellow students). I have difficulty knowing how to be appropriate socially, and occasionally make the wrong calculation and say something horribly offensive. What is the value of 'appropriate' behavior?
LAZIDAISICAL: My problem in society is my face. No matter how hard I try to keep quiet about something, or not make a snide comment, I can’t stop my face from scowling or looking like “this person I’m talking to is a fucking idiot.” I’m fascinated by human interactions and motivations. I’m the creepy person in the bar who just scrutinizes everyone to death and eavesdrops on as many conversations as I can. At meetings, instead of listening, I watch what everyone’s eyes and bodies do when certain uncomfortable topics are brought up. At work, I inconspicuously appear alongside customers, pretending to perform a work-related task, and listen to them talk amongst themselves. Based on my scientific observations, it seems that, 95% of the time, people are uncomfortable, angry, or put-off by something someone is saying. Is this any way to live? What is wrong with human nature?
Furthermore, I think the appropriateness theme stems from my obsession with the racial divide. People expect certain races to act certain ways. I grew up in a strictly Mexican-American neighborhood, but my biological father (who I didn’t grow up with) was part white, which somehow made me extremely light-skinned to the degree that I am sometimes mistaken for a “white girl” by other Hispanics. As a kid, when I’d say something in Spanish around other kids who assumed I was just white, they would visibly have a difficult time wrapping their minds around what I said vs. what I looked like. And they’d have a million questions. And they always felt the need to have me repeat myself; then they’d critique the roll of my Rs or my annunciation, because I was so “white”. And I thought the whole thing didn’t really need to be that big of a deal. But on my side of town, anyone who was studious was “acting white”, anyone who dressed in certain brands was “acting white”, anyone who did or said anything cheesy was “acting white”. It was frowned upon if you were “acting white” because white people, it was believed, were oppressors. But what were people supposed to think of a supposed “white girl” trying to “act Mexican”? Back then, none of us personally knew anyone outside of our race. So how did we know that something a Mexican-American kid was doing wasn’t appropriate or normal for his or her own race? I even had a female African-American teacher once ask me if I was white, and when I said “only a little bit”, she gently told me that I should try and get in touch with my “white side” because doing so might prove more successful for me as I grew up. I could speculate for hours on what that says about her own self-esteem and self-worth and all that, but I won’t do that right now (I have before, though).
People try to make everything fit their pre-conceived notions of the world, society, and themselves; instead of learning from things, they desperately try and reconcile anything that makes them uncomfortable, either by denying it or making excuses for it or otherwise putting an end to it. I think that people should be allowed to act however they want to (but only if they are doing so intelligently) without anyone making a big deal about it.
HUNT: How often and for how long do you write? Everyday, three times a week? Etc... Do you type or handwrite? If you type, on what device and why?
LAZIDAISICAL: I write everyday. I cram all my writing into the hours that my family is asleep. If I'm not at work, then I write for 1-2 hours in the afternoon when my daughter is napping. My husband doesn't get home from work until 11:30 pm so I write for 2-3 hours at night after I put my daughter to sleep. I set my alarm for 5:30 every other morning or so but sleep through it half the time which makes me hate myself. When I do crawl out of bed at that time, I get to write for 1-2 hours. So I write for 4-7 hours a day. And it still doesn't seem like enough. I can't write with my husband and daughter around because I feel guilty for writing instead of spending time with them. Or for writing instead of doing laundry.
I handwrite a lot and I type too. I handwrite when I'm brainstorming or writing poetry or when ideas strike me or if we're on a road trip. I have dozens of notebooks full of chicken scratch. But lots of times the handwritten brainstorming notes will give way to handwritten rough drafts of a short story or chapter. I type when I'm satisfied with an idea and want to create a hard copy of it. Then I spend hours editing the hardcopy. I type on an old school laptop that we've had for about six years. The novel I've been working on for six years is on here, so that's why it's my go-to device. We have an iMac too but I think it's weird. The screen jumps and there's no wire or visible buttons on the mouse and the screen is bigger than most websites are designed for (I'm assuming that's the problem). It makes me want to punch it.
HUNT: How has having a child changed your writing?
LAZIDAISICAL: Being a mother has made me more determined to write. It has not miraculously made me feel like a grown-up the way I thought it would. When I was pregnant, I feared I might somehow turn into a mommy blogger once my daughter was born. Instead, raising a child has made me incredibly aware of what my childhood was like and has made me dwell on issues from it that were left unresolved. As a result, my characters are less self-confident than they used to be, more paranoid, and slightly more absurd.
Another reason that this interview is creepy is because I am answering this question about motherhood on the very day of the eleven year anniversary of my mother’s death. My mother passed away when I was seventeen, before I ever had any inclination to ask what she wanted to be when she grew up, or what she thought about this or that, or why she was the way she was, or why she just accepted things as they were, or what she was hiding from me, or what her hopes for me were, or how I changed her life, or if she was ever really happy. I don’t want my daughter to wonder such things about me. Because my mom died when I was so young, I can’t help but assume I will die when my daughter is very young, too. So right now I’m finishing up a collection of short stories and poems that I’m gonna self-publish this spring in my daughter’s honor. The stories don’t answer any of the above questions about me, but I hope that, if I die soon, they will at least offer her a glimpse of how I saw things, my humor, my opinions, and my imagination. And, ultimately, I hope they will inspire her to follow her dreams.
HUNT: What do mommy bloggers blog about? Maybe you could become the ultra-paranoid/absurd mommy blogger? Change the whole industry. Maybe you could write a ultra-paranoid mommy blogger post below?
LAZIDAISICAL: Mommy bloggers write about their adventures in breast-feeding, or the techniques they’re using to potty train their kid, or recipes they’ve invented that their kids can’t get enough of. Or they post videos of their kids saying things that every other kid before them has said. Some of them even go so far as to write reviews about the new toy they bought their toddler. So they, presumably, sit there for hours, absorbed in thought over a spinning piece of plastic that makes baby noises and induces headaches with its flashing lights. My daughter can’t even bother with a toy for that long cuz she knows it’s not that interesting to bother with. I’m glad mommy bloggers think their kid is special, I think mine is too, but I wonder what they’d be writing about if they didn’t have kids. Nothing, perhaps?
The “absurd mommy blogger” idea sounds intriguing. I will continue to think about that. But if I were a “paranoid mommy blogger” I don’t think my posts would turn out as promising as the title sounds. One of my posts would go something like this:
“I think everyone who walks too close to us on the streets is planning to abduct and/or molest my daughter. I guess I think other mothers should feel the same way. At the park the other day, I pointed out to two other mothers a strange, dirty man lurking near the fence, almost standing behind a tree. I asked if they thought he looked suspicious, or just homeless, and neither answered me. They literally just mumbled, ‘I don’t know’ and looked away from me and continued talking to each other about their husbands’ promotions without even showing any signs of concern. Granted, their daughters were ugly compared to my daughter, so I guess I understand why they didn’t think their kids would immediately be snatched up by this guy, but anyway they didn’t care and I seriously considered bashing them over their heads with my daughter’s sand toys because I think doing so would have been in the best interests of their daughters. Then, of course, I’d have to bash in the head of that dirty old man, too. I’m afraid I might start getting addicted to bashing people’s heads in, especially if those people are child molesters.”
Every paranoid post before and after that would probably be about child molesters, too. And this post was a true story.
HUNT: When did you start your Poetic Vandals website and why? After perusing the site for a few days my favorite is the 'Fuck you! We Beast' from an East Las Vegas playground. What was this written on? What's the appeal to you of found language (and also of putting your own language/images out to be found)? I lived in Phoenix for a year or so and remember seeing the words 'deanna loves victor santo always' on a sign that said 'Look Up! Premises Monitored By Camera!' That is my strongest memory of Phoenix.
LAZIDAISICAL: I admire deanna for blatantly vandalizing something in the name of love right under the nose of a security camera. I hope that she and victor santo are living happily ever after. Or, I might actually wish that they aren’t and that she’s gone back to that site and written what went wrong between them. I would love for people to start following up with their vandalism like that.
I think I started Poetic Vandals about five or six months ago. I’m still fumbling with it. The idea has always been with me; I mentioned it casually in a drunk blog post one night and my friend alyssa (http://alyssagoesbang.blogspot.com) encouraged the idea and offered her own ideas of how we could make the concept take off. I’ve actually written a short story about being drawn to graffiti and found words, so I’ll answer this with excerpts from that story, because the character in the story is pretty much me; the story is the most non-fiction story I’ve ever written:
On nearly every public structure, paint is peeling, stairs are crumbling, base boards are broken, windows are busted out; the Crips have written their gang name in blue, and the Bloods have written their gang name in red. The rivalry between the two groups prompts them to spray-paint the number 187 across each other’s tags. 187 is the police code for murder. Scrawled around these aggressive threats are the passive aliases of various members of the two gangs: "Mickey", "Daffy", "Pluto", and "Snoopy". I am struck dumb by how juvenile and non-threatening these names are. Why not "Killer" or "Bad Ass"? I can’t help but feel sad for the fact that the criminals responsible for this graffiti are obviously kids at heart – kids who feel they must break the law and kill people to get any attention.
But because vandalism is the cultural norm, my friends and I [in the eighth grade] give ourselves "tag names" too. Pretty ones. "Honey", "Sugar", "Precious", "Sweetie", "Babydoll". We write these names on our notebooks, and when we go to the mall or the movies we write them on fitting room walls and restroom mirrors. We let people know, for example, that “Honey wuz here!" and we provide a date to prove it. If time and circumstance permits, we draw smiley faces or flowers or butterflies or hearts or any combination of such cutesy things around our tag names to devoid the vandalism of negative connotations.
I think it’ll be cool if a gang member sees our lovely graffiti. Maybe it will make her smile? Maybe it will motivate her to try a positive approach at getting her message across instead?
[After seeing some vandals in action one night]
“Some semblance of letters and words are visible the next day on the side wall of a Taco Bell where that group [of vandals] was loitering. Most notable is the phrase "North Side Killaz". That isn’t the name of a gang. It’s not even a gang-related statement. This is a sociopolitical statement. The north side of the city is where the white people live. The message the authors are trying to get across is: "death to racism".
The writers have most likely been mistreated recently by white people – as is the norm in our city. But they don't know how to properly speak out about it. Socially acceptable methods of communication aren’t open to us because no one cares what Mexicans have to say. Since most people assume we are here illegally, draining the economy, they don’t believe we deserve to be treated fairly. So the authors have taken to the streets to demonstrate their distress – to speak out against inequality– albeit, unfortunately, in a stereotypically ghetto fashion.
Four days later, nearly a dozen of their fellow vandals – some of them dangerous criminals such as Mickey and Snoopy – have signed their names around the "North Side Killaz" declaration as a means of offering support. I find it fascinating that, when gripped tightly by rage and a desire for change, these vandals and criminals and otherwise misunderstood and misguided individuals feel strongly compelled to write down their feelings in a most grandiose way…”
So, that pretty much explains it. I want to write an entire novel on a big blank wall one day, or down the entire length of a sidewalk. I guess that’s what I want Poetic Vandals to amount to. People can avoid reading certain books or certain publications, or they can shy away from certain art forms that don’t fit in with their everyday thoughts, but for the most part people can’t avoid reading vandalism that’s staring them in the face at a bus stop or a stop light. I like for people to sometimes think things that might be uncharacteristic for them to think - to think things that maybe they weren’t brought up to think. Vandalism and found art, I think, kind of make that happen. Street art that makes a statement might end up causing someone to consider an issue or art form that they had never paid any mind to before. Graffiti that consists of gang members’ names forces people to constantly be aware of the bullshit going on in their neighborhood, or in America in general.
The “Fuck You! We Beast” was found on the inside of a swirly slide on a playground in a rough neighborhood of Las Vegas. It appealed to me because: what the fuck does “We Beast” mean?! My first thought, actually, was that it was a misspelling. I assumed some ten year olds wrote it inside the slide so that they wouldn’t be seen and their stupid asses misspelled their own thought. Did they really mean “Fuck You! We’re Beasts [and we are going to get you]!” or “Fuck You! We’re the Best!” or is “Beast” a term they made up for “Cool”? If beast means cool, then that’s fucking genius, really. I choose to believe that “beast” means “cool” or “bad ass” or “willing to throw down”. And I love that some kids from a bad neighborhood invented their own slang and went out and imposed it on the world. I mean, look, it got us talking about it; and hopefully anyone who reads this will walk away thinking about it and might possibly tell the next person who talks shit to them, “Fuck you! I’m beast, bitch!” And, really, me writing about this is probably accomplishing more than the vandals ever imagined their beast statement would accomplish. That’s fucking beast, isn’t it?
HUNT: That's great. I think I want wanted to read 'beast' as a verb. Like a kind of collective movement forward, a kind of dance, or an aggression, a becoming. I don't know. Reminds me of my twelve-year-old me. What would be the best location for a public art novel? What would that novel be about? What would you want it to do to people? (Personally I'd like to make passersby weep tragically into their palms and then feel confused and alone.)
LAZIDAISICAL: Best location for a public art novel…hmmm…? I think I’d have to choose a place on a whim. I imagine I’d drunkenly stumble upon the place and suddenly feel like a novel needed to be written there out in the open. The novel would either somehow make people feel stupid about themselves, or be erotic fiction. The whole point would be to teach people a lesson or make them uncomfortable. Making them feel confused and alone, as you suggested, would be pretty perfect because then they’d end up having to figure themselves out and then go and reconcile estranged relationships, and that’s some pretty powerful stuff.
HUNT: Why do you want your daughter to wait until adulthood to read your writing? I'm a little conflicted about sharing my work with my daughter, but I can't articulate why or how or what it means. I think I'll share when asked, but try to provide context, but that may make me some kind of oddball permissive liberal.
LAZIDAISICAL: I don't want to hide anything from her, either, because my mom hid a lot of stuff from me and that sucks, but I'm worried she's going to want to read my stuff when she's ten and, as of now, I don't have anything written that's suitable for a ten-year-old to read. Maybe I will later. Maybe I will tomorrow even. But even when she's a teenager... like I said, I'm writing an entire novel based on the outcomes of sex, rape, and molestation and it's graphic and crude and the people in the novel lead lives that, as a mother, I am obligated to tell my daughter not to lead. I don't want her, as a teenager, to have her budding sexuality thwarted or negatively influenced by her mother's writings. And if, by chance, she gets turned on by the normal sex scenes in my work, well, I think that's weird, too. I don't know. It's weird and uncomfortable to think about. We can talk about weird things once she establishes a normal, healthy sex life as an adult. I'm probably terrified of her asking what compelled me to write about these things too. I don't know. But a common theme in my writings is gender roles and racial issues, and I think that kind of stuff is okay to talk with her about even at ten years old. But, again, I can't help myself from writing about sexual dysfunctions even when I'm talking about that stuff. My tamest story (that I plan on publishing) mentions sexual fetishes and I don't want my daughter to have sexual fetishes so I don't want to be the one who introduces the concept of sexual fetishes to her. I don't know. Stuff like that. I'm uncomfortable now. And I'm scared to death of dying before ever getting the chance to talk with her about what I write. What will she think of me if left to her own speculation (hopefully her dad will still be around, but still)?
HUNT: How did you end up living in London? How is London different from Las Vegas? From San Antonio? What is your strongest memory of San Antonio. To what degree are all American cities the same? What other cities have you lived in?
LAZIDAISICAL: My husband’s job sent him to London. He asked me to marry him and I went out there, too. London is different from Vegas because London matters. London has shaped the world and Vegas has done nothing but create casinos that look like cardboard cutouts of Roman and Parisian monuments. People who live in London care about London and people who live in Vegas do not care about Vegas. Las Vegans think their city belongs to tourists, not them; so they don’t give a fuck. They feel like they aren’t treated as well as the tourists are, which makes the community vibe here suck. In London, people of all social classes go to the theatre; in Vegas, half the people who live here don’t know where the Arts District is or what the monthly First Friday Art Celebration is. London is different from San Antonio because people of all different races sit next to each other on public transport without looking disgusted. In San Antonio, Mexicans, blacks, and whites will segregate themselves from each other on a bus and look at each other like “at least I’m not that guy’s race.”
In London, people know more about what’s going on in America than Americans do. I lived in London during Hurricane Katrina and the onset of “The War on Terror” and I feel the British media had more insightful, more human things to say about these unthinkable events than the American media did. I don’t know what kind of important things Americans spend their precious time thinking about if not social equality or the bigger picture. I don’t know why we feel so entitled when, collectively, we’re fucking ignorant.
I feel like I’ve said very basic, very vague, very common things to compare and contrast these cities. I could go on and on about this forever, but thinking about it and trying to create some sort definitive statement about what makes London different from Las Vegas and San Antonio is making me exhausted. I don’t know. Vegas feels like a place where everyone plays pretend, but not in a good, cute, whimsical way. London feels like it makes people worldly and aware and always on the verge of discovering something new. San Antonio feels like I want to go there and overthrow the government and really make it feel like the seventh largest city in America; I wanna make it feel like a place that’s progressive and no longer like a place that’s stagnant for no discernible reason what-so-fucking-ever. San Antonio has the fourth largest Hispanic population in the country. It should be trying to pave the way for racial equality. It should be a place that aims to elevate the status of Mexican-Americans in the U.S. But, no. And now I have a raging headache.
I think all American cities are the same in that they are stereotypically American. I hate that New York City, one of the most dynamic cities in the world, is so often personified by Times Square. I hate that Times Square has a McDonald’s and that tourists go to Times Square to gawk and marvel at giant blinking ads. I’ve never been to Times Square (or New York City, for that matter) but I’ve been to Piccadilly Square in London. Piccadilly has a much more scaled down mass of blinking LED ad screens, and even there in London, the city that can do no wrong in my eyes, I felt annoyed by the screens. I just kind of wanted to swat my hand and make them go away like a buzzing insect. But one can walk through Piccadilly pretty quickly and be done with it, whereas, it seems that Times Square kind of traps people and makes them spin ‘round and ‘round in search of a way out, and eventually they have to just give up and go fucking eat at McDonald’s. What was the question again? I pretty much answered it, though, right?