Monday, September 27, 2010


You know how when you're infatuated with someone you have this fantasy of spending an entire day in bed with them? Maybe you fantasize about this person spying on you in the night, even though your rational self knows that's stalky and creepy and they should totally get a life.

When I was thirteen, living in Chicago with my mom and her boyfriend, I used to picture Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran perched on my fire escape like a cat, taking time out of his hectic world tour to stare into my window and watch the rise and fall of my torso, gazing in wonderment with his green British eyes at the sheer miracle of my existence. I walked the halls of Sacred Heart High School, my kilt swinging slowly around my kneecaps, picturing him always there, always fascinated, pining for me the same way I pined for him. (Did you know I went to Catholic school?)

I don't know what I did with myself when I wasn't infatuated with some British pop star or mortal boy from another school. Maybe I did my school work. Crushing was my default escape route from the painful realities of existence, a coping mechanism I'd used since I had my first crush on Shaun Cassidy when I was five. My crushes consumed me to the point of making me feel like I barely existed in the real world, which felt ghostly good at first.

But ultimately it was terrible thing, because the fantasy eventually cracked for one reason or another, leaving me exposed to the reality of unrequited affection. It was like being dragged out of a warm bed and plunged into a tub full of ice in the middle of January. But soon after one obsession had ebbed, another one would rush in to fill its spot, and I'd go through the highs and the lows again. And again and again.

Some things you never learn.

So I spent the day in bed yesterday, infatuated. But not with a person. With a book. A book that the cocktail party judge looks down her nose at because it's too easy to read, too simplistic, too cliche... But it hooked me the way books do sometimes. The way Interview with a Vampire hooked me when I was a teenager. And The Talisman. And Go Ask Alice. The kind of book you take into the bathroom with you EVERY time. The kind of book you stay up past your bedtime for. The kind of book you don't lend.

The book chronicles infatuation the same way I have lived it, right down to the spy in the night watching the young girl sleep, but instead of the spy being the protagonist's wish, he's really doing it. I am eating this up. At forty-one, maybe it should be more shocking that the feelings are still the same - fiery, agonizing, consuming. You've probably already read the book. It came out in 2005. It's Twilight. I didn't know I liked vampire stories so much, but now looking back on my past obsessions, my Lestat phase, my Nosferatu and Dracula moments, I see that I do. I see that I am also five years late to the table with this adoration. That's just the way I roll. It took me years, for instance, to fall in love with the Spice Girls.


What Stephenie Meyer is doing for me with this book is to show me that there is more room for me as a writer than I allow. I keep my boundaries so narrow when I think about what to write, and that's good to know. Not every story needs to be so insufferably plausible. I'm not even talking about writing a vampire story, though it sounds like loads of fun I admit. But the way she gives her heroine (and herself!) the pleasure of living out the fantasies we have during infatuation. It blows me away that I didn't consider it myself, coming from such obsessive ilk. This is all to say, the CPJ would be much happier with me if I'd written Twilight instead of kissing it like I did yesterday, under the covers in bed, away from the chaos and hubbub.

But she will just have to be unhappy while I lay in bed, lapping it up.



Kim said...

I so wanted to avoid anything to do with the Twilight mania...but I have daughters. My daughter Sarah made me (mind you I was objecting strongly)sit down with her for an entire Saturday afternoon and watch the movies with her...I loved them! Now to find the time to read them.

kristi said...

the movies i hate. and that has made me not want to read the books. but i have heard nothing but absolute praise for the story (everyone who has any brains prefaces "i'm reading twilight" with "ok, it's not very well written but the STORY...").

i also must confess that even though i hate the movies (didn't see the 2nd but saw the first one completely drunk, which helped, and saw the 3rd one not long ago) i have to say that jacob is my fave. or maybe it's the hunky just-old-enough actor who's playing him--can't decide if it's the character or the real boy. either way, those PECS. good grief.

kristen stewart is annoying, and i don't like what the character says about girls. that said, i do think that, being someone who can identify with crush after crush after crush (all real boys--i never could get into stars; i would say "they aren't real), i can see how it helps to have her play someone who is sort of hollow, someone we can use to easily insert ourselves into the storyline, to be the one edward wants desperately but is so honorable not to conquer until we are betrothed to him.

so much to talk about. maybe i should just give it up and read the books. but seriously, please don't have high expectations for the movies.

on the other hand, see, if you really DO push CPJ off the cliff and kill her for good and just go for it, i totally can see you making mad cash off a novel or series like this.


Elise Abrams Miller said...

Kim, thanks for the comment! If you can read a book after you've seen the movie, my hat is off to you. I ruined my book-reading possibilities with that other hot series, the girl with the dragon tattoo. I don't think ink on paper can compete with the broiling hotness of noomi rapace. I am wrong surely?

Kristi! I am all geared up to be disappointed by the movies thanks to you. It's such a happier life to expect the worst. That's the Miller M.O. thank you! Already the posters for the movies irk me to no end. The books though, they let me fill in the blanks the way I want to, just like you so eloquently described in your comment. this is why it works so well. everyone is generically beautiful, generically characterized. Clumsy...Beautiful...etc. Your last paragraph of course is the money for my needy sensibility. I would LOVE to! BLAMMO (That's me kicking CPJ in the teeth. Woo!)

lots of love.

Kim said...

I am sure that the movies have ruined my ability to fantasize the way I would had I not seen them. I had read the Bourne Identity series and tried to watch the movies but lasted an entire 5 minutes. Matt Damon was definitely not my image of Jason Bourne. I have decided since then not to watch the movies once the book is read but have never done it the other way around.

Elise Abrams Miller said...

Kim, I'm so glad I didn't read the Bourne books because I absolutely adored Matt Damon in the films. Funny you should say that. The absolute worst adaptation I ever saw had to be Angela's Ashes. Okay Interview with a Vampire sucked ass too. there are loads of duds. It just goes to show that our imaginations create the perfect personal films in our heads as we read.