How Shortbus Shut My Shite Up

Q. If a blogger falls in the woods after not posting for months on end, is anyone left to read about it?
A. You tell me.

Except: I didn’t fall in the woods. I fell into Alice’s looking glass, more like, sometime around when I saw John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus. I dug its oldschool-NYC patriotism, though the movie itself proved surprisingly forgettable — proven scientifically by the fact that now, six months later, all I can summon is an autofellatio sequence (not hot, as it turns out) and Daniela Sea brandishing a feather (ibid, naturally). But the real problem materialized afterward, when I rolled out of the critics’ screening and fell in step with a colleague whom I knew only vaguely. Enough to know that he was very nice and equally discerning, in other words.

Typically, none of us really talk about the films too much when we emerge from screenings; for me it comes down to not wanting to shoot my load prematurely and, though others’ reasons might be articulated with less of a potty mouth, I suspect they’d amount to pretty much the same thing. So the critic, who’s almost exactly my age, and I talked about Other Stuff instead. He told me about the new condo he and his wife had just moved into, and about the baby they were expecting in a few months. Then he turned to me and asked brightly how things were with me.


I couldn’t settle on how to respond with the same level of personal detail without, well, shooting my load. There were facts that I wasn’t ready to throw out in the hopper yet. I didn’t know what to make of them yet myself, let alone how to present them. Those facts comprised every corner of my personal life and in the face of all his age-appropriate stolidness, I felt shamefaced about how upended I still was. I’m not suggesting his life, or he, was square. He’s not. Just decided. Whereas I was decidedly not.


So, the critic moved on gallantly. “Well, what’d you think of the movie?” he finally asked.

A movie in which the characters turned their sexualities inside out and then on their heads. One that resonated so much with the life I had been leading in the last four months that I doubted my ability to perceive it objectively. (Apparently I’ve since gained that confidence.) “Well.” I stopped and then started again.

And that’s about when I fell into the rabbit hole.

The fabric of my life has radically changed or, rather, it’s been torn up and I’m still sorting out how to repair it. Barely any relationships in my life have been spared serious reevaluation and so much of the way that I have identified myself — and kept my wolves at bay — is either no longer applicable or no longer fit for public consumption.

Some of the questions that have me snagged: How to write when the drama of your real life eclipses that which you’re reviewing. How to keep working when just keeping afloat feels like terribly hard work. How to obey instincts rather than reflexes. How to respond to the mildest of social prompts without frothing at the mouth like a crazy person. These are the queries of a teenager rather than an adult. I have struggled with all of them the last eight months anyway.

But the other day I fell upon this quote and it hit me like a Bob Dylan hurricane:

”I didn’t understand then that it was very important for me to work, whatever happened in my life.” Marianne Faithfull

I’m still struggling with these existential navelpickers, but I think I’ve got them sufficiently back in my, uh, pants so that I may rejoin this cultural conversation — issuing these reactions that feel like my truest actions — and write here again. At the end of the day, I just miss it so much. I dearly regret having let Dreamgirls (loved), Princesas(lerved), and the timedumpers that were last winter’s missives from Tres Amigos as well as a host of other film travesties and triumphs go undocumented.

Just two more things:

1. I may have responded viscerally to Cameron Mitchell’s headspin of a genderquake of a wtf movie but I still can’t quite dub it a great film. He doesn’t relish the medium of film specifically enough; it seems irrelevant to him as it does to that other indie-renaissance poster child, natty little Miranda July. The filmmakers whom I most admire must most admire film. And on that, Marty, I still love you. I thought The Depahted your finest comedy.
2. No matter what, I am and always will be first and foremost a Broad.

Come back soon, loyal reader.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy