This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
I’m sitting in my underwear, on my bed, wearing a Lacoste polo, watching You’ve Got Mail by myself. The first scene is a computer screen from the nineties. The desktop takes up the whole screen. It’s as if I’m using a real life computer from the nineties instead of watching a movie. An unknown user, maybe me, just moved the mouse cursor and clicked the middle of the screen. The opening credits started, a digital recreation of New York. All of the animation is extremely blocky like something you’d see in a commercial for ringtones. I don’t know if ringtones are still a thing people buy. I’d assume not.
The unknown user moved the cursor and clicked on a building. I travel like a bird down the streets of Manhattan until I arrive at Meg Ryan’s house. The unknown user clicks one more time and the digital world turns into the real world. Meg Ryan is alive and well IRL. She just woke up.
Meg Ryan’s boyfriend woke her up. Meg Ryan’s boyfriend is the worst.
“You think this machine is your friend but it’s not.”
He was referring to her computer. The computer she gets mail on.
She checks her mail when her boyfriend leaves. She starts reading an email about Tom Hanks’ dog. Tom Hanks is narrating the email. Meg Ryan does not know what Tom Hanks’ voice sounds like yet so I don’t know what voice she actually read the email in.
Now I’m in Tom Hanks’ house and Tom Hanks’ girlfriend is also the worst. I just wish Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks would start dating. Why don’t they get that they should be dating? They have some of the same mannerisms. Both of them wait for the people they’re sleeping with to leave for work and then they sneak around the house making sure they’re gone and then they check their mail on AOL.
You’ve Got Mail was my first favorite movie but this is only the second time I’ve watched it this year. Sometimes some years just aren’t as good as other years.
Tom Hanks is now checking his mail. He just said, “you’ve got mail,” along with the computer saying “you’ve got mail.” He has an email from Meg Ryan. She reminds him they met in a chatroom. She says she wakes up every morning just hoping to hear the words “you’ve got mail” and that the email is from him. I think she only gets mail from Tom Hanks. I feel a lot better about myself and my life now that both Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks have both said “you’ve got mail.” I feel OK. I don’t feel as sad and hungover as before.
Dave Chappelle just showed up. I flipped to my browser to make sure I spelled “Chappelle” right the first time. I did. Tom Hanks and Dave Chappelle are work buddies but also seem to be buddy buddies. They probably would invite each other to each other’s weddings. Tom Hanks doesn’t want to marry his girlfriend though.
Meg Ryan is standing in her bookshop and saying she is in love with her boyfriend but you can tell she doesn’t mean it. She clearly doesn’t love her boyfriend. She’s in love with Tom Hanks just like us.
Meg Ryan wants to know if infidelity is infidelity if it’s over email.
“I sent Tom Hanks a picture of myself naked on my bed reading a book by Jane Austen and then he sent me a bunch of dick pics.”
An old woman walks into Meg Ryan’s bookstore.
“Are you online?”
Meg Ryan’s friend said that to the old woman. Then the old woman starts talking about cyber-sex.
“I tried having cyber-sex once but I kept getting a busy signal.”
The old woman said that.
The movie is getting to its first lull. I take my attention away for a few moments. I think about what I did today. I’m eating a Snickers bar. I had sex earlier. I walked around campus earlier. I saw fireworks earlier.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are emailing each other again. Meg Ryan tells Tom Hanks that she’s read Pride & Prejudice over 200 times. She’s a bookworm. She’s very smart. When she’s talking about Pride & Prejudice Tom Hanks is shown trying to read Pride & Prejudice and he just rolls his eyes and looks at his dog like, “what is this shit.” In the movie Tom Hanks owns Barnes & Noble. In the movie his name is Mr. Barnes.
Meg Ryan is now at home and her boyfriend is raving about his new typewriter. She is mad because he has another of the same typewriter on the same table and another of the same typewriter on a different table at work.
“When you use your typewriter I don’t want to fuck you.”
Another lull. I finish the bag of Snickers bars my mom sent me for Halloween.
“I’m having my eggs harvested.”
Someone said that.
Tom Hanks is hanging out with kids who were once eggs. He is a good guy. He is really good with these kids. When I had sex earlier I didn’t think about kids and I hope I won’t have to for a while. I can’t.
Meg Ryan is reading to a bunch of kids. She is also really good with kids.
They’re both at Meg Ryan’s small bookstore that Tom Hanks is going to put out of business with his Barnes & Noble. Meg Ryan will later be cool with Barnes & Noble because it is the perfect bookstore and we should all be so lucky to have a Barnes & Noble in our town. I wish Barnes & Noble would put every independent bookstore out of business because they are not perfect and I only like beautiful and perfect things.
Tom Hanks is looking at a book with hand-painted illustrations and talking to an artisanal book seller Meg Ryan employs.
“That’s why it costs so much?”
Tom Hanks said that.
“That’s why it’s worth so much.”
The worker said that.
“OH I SEE EYEROLL EYEROLL EYEROLL.”
Tom Hanks shoves the book back onto the bookshelf with as much force as he can muster. A loud bang happens. Everybody looks at him. He smiles and looks down awkwardly and full of shame.
Meg Ryan tells Tom Hanks, who she doesn’t know is Mr. Barnes, that Barnes & Noble can go to hell but she didn’t say the word hell because of the kids Tom Hanks is with. One of the kids keeps spelling his last name, “B-A-R-N-E-S” but Meg Ryan doesn’t get that the kid is spelling his own last name. She’s too busy looking at Tom Hanks’ face.
Barnes & Noble opens because it wasn’t open before and the plot of the movie is that Barnes & Noble is opening and will put Meg Ryan on the street and Tom Hanks will have to let her move in with him for financial reasons and she’ll have to be his slave in exchange for food and shelter. The oldest Barnes said, “it’s a hit.”
Meg Ryan’s business immediately starts failing.
I know Meg Ryan is going to make it after all just like Mary Tyler Moore in the Mary Tyler Moore Show but I feel for her in this moment. I wish someone would give Meg Ryan her own show so she wouldn’t have to be so sad about her book business. I would watch The Meg Ryan Show. It wouldn’t even necessarily have to star Meg Ryan. Just the fact that the writers know who Meg Ryan is and appreciate her enough to name their show after her would be enough for me.
All of the main characters go to a cool loft party. They run into each other in the drink line.
“I’m going to drink a lot of these and hope we hook up.”
Tom Hanks quotes The Godfather.
Meg Ryan realizes that Tom Hanks is Mr. Barnes and he’s going to put her out of business. Originally she just thought he was some good-looking guy. She no longer wants to hook up.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s lovers are now talking. They like each other. Everyone should just switch.
Tom Hanks’ lover works for a publishing agency. She wants Meg Ryan’s lover to write a book. I wish I was Meg Ryan’s lover and a publisher holding a gin and tonic wanted me to write a book.
Meg Ryan is emailing again. She is a very expressive typer. Her head moves around a lot when she types. Tom Hanks is emailing her back. He is also a very expressive typer. I think he thinks she can see him when she’s reading his email. I don’t think he gets it.
Another lull. They keep almost seeing each other IRL. There’s a joke about credit cards.
Tom Hanks tells some jokes and sort of acts like an asshole to a Mexican woman. She’s really into it and wants to have sex with Tom Hanks.
The lull bounces around. Tom Hanks’ kid from earlier sings “Tomorrow” by Annie really badly. Tom Hanks wants to tweet about it but realized that would be rude.
Meg Ryan’s bookstore realizes authors don’t give a shit about them.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan start Instant Messaging each other. I wish Instant Messenger was still around. I used to spend a lot of time on my AIM profile. I once said that I loved a girl in my class on my AIM profile even though we’d never talked and we weren’t going out. I didn’t realize that wasn’t OK because nobody ever told me it wasn’t OK before and I had to learn it. Her friend told me the next day it wasn’t OK. Her friend had blocked me on her buddy list before this. Back when she did that I had told her she blocked me the next day because I didn’t think that was awkward because I had assumed it was an accident.
Meg Ryan’s boyfriend writes an article in the newspaper he works for about Meg Ryan’s bookstore and how people who shop at Barnes & Noble are assholes.
They seem to be getting more business and get a lot of press but it doesn’t help their sales. They will go out of business because of Tom Hanks.
Over email Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan decide to meet. Dave Chappelle goes with Tom Hanks to help him get fired up. When he starts freaking out Dave Chappelle starts making jokes and gets him all ready. Tom Hanks gets to the coffee shop and realizes Meg Ryan is Meg Ryan and then he freaks out. He almost leaves but then he decides to go in anyway. The catch is that he doesn’t tell her he’s the guy she emails naked pictures with. She thinks she gets stood up and she’s sad.
When Tom Hanks first sits down, he started talking about Pride & Prejudice with the very smart and cultured Meg Ryan. They talk about the love story and how the whole time you hope and know the main characters are going to end up together. Tom Hanks is Pride and Meg Ryan is Prejudice.
Pride & Prejudice.
William & Mary was dead this weekend. Earlier tonight I watched fireworks but they only lasted 10 minutes.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan email each other more. I stop listening for a while because I’ve already seen You’ve Got Mail and I know what is going to happen. Tom Hanks knows too. He tells Meg Ryan he was trapped in an elevator even though that happens later. I know exactly when Tom Hanks stops sending Meg Ryan dick pics and starts waiting outside her window with a boombox. I know when Meg Ryan stops cutting herself in the bathroom and starts chopping salads as she makes Tom Hanks dinner. I check my email.
I’ve got too much mail. I don’t want to think about it. I get overwhelmed with all the people who reach out to me sometimes. Alive is too much.
I start paying attention again.
Meg Ryan and her boyfriend both want to break up with each other and they break up. Meg Ryan’s boyfriend asks her if she has someone else after he tells her that he has someone else. She says no, “but there’s the dream of someone else.”
“There’s the dream of someone else.”
Meg Ryan closes her bookstore.
She goes to Barnes & Noble. She falls in love with the place. She starts rolling around on the ground and seizuring out of joy. She gets up and helps a Barnes & Noble employee help a customer looking for a kids’ book. The customer could have checked her iPhone but she had dropped it earlier on the sidewalk and it shattered.
Tom Hanks and his girlfriend get trapped in an elevator. They yell at a Mexican on the phone and Tom Hanks is super condescending. He repeatedly says “911” to Juan over and over because Juan just doesn’t get it. Someone on the elevator decides he wants to get married if he gets out of the elevator. Tom Hanks realizes he doesn’t love his girlfriend. Tom Hanks and his girlfriend break up.
Tom Hanks brings Meg Ryan flowers. Meg Ryan is sick because she isn’t immortal and can die. Tom Hanks asks for a vase but says, “I need a vase, a voz, a vase” or the other way around. There are multiple ways of saying vase and it’s funny when he points that out.
Tom Hanks brings up Pride & Prejudice again. He says Meg Ryan is just like Elizabeth.
Meg Ryan talks about the person she’s emailing with who she doesn’t know is Tom Hanks. She says she doesn’t really know that guy and only knows him through the Internet. Tom Hanks says that’s fine.
“You’ve got mail are powerful words.”
I’m a bit happier.
Tom Hanks touches Meg Ryan’s lips. She sort of starts to tell Tom Hanks might be the person she’s been sending nude pictures to on the World Wide Web.
They start emailing more. They start hanging out. Tom Hanks makes fun of fat people. He asks her what his “handle” is. Then he makes a joke about Clark bars. These are the only references in You’ve Got Mail that don’t hold up. Nobody says “Clark bar” anymore.
I once performed a standup routine as the ghost of Will Clark where I wore a bedsheet over my head and read jokes from an iPhone because I couldn’t memorize my jokes. I thought it went one way but the audience decided it went another.
Meg Ryan is writing a book. She realizes Tom Hanks inspired her book. I want to read a book inspired by Tom Hanks. I will buy Meg Ryan’s book from Amazon. Amazon put Tom Hanks’ book store out of business.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan decide they love each other. On the Internet they decide to try meeting again IRL. They meet and Meg Ryan says, “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly. I wanted those dick pics to be your dick pics more than everything.”
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” plays.
There’s a rainbow because everyone is crying.
There are so many tears that a rainbow appears.
Tom Hanks talks over the bleeding rainbow.
“Don’t cry, ShopGirl. Don’t Cry.”
Meg Ryan’s handle was ShopGirl.
Meg Ryan was ShopGirl.
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I should eat an entire sleeve of saltines (and a brownie).
Forget answering: my salary is ________. This is about all the little things that you think are your preferences but were actually given to you like gifts.
7. Visiting the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum.
Writing is all about process. Learning how you write, or how you create, is just as important as what you’re actually writing about. Here are several things I’ve learned since starting to write my first book, that will help you embrace the creative writing process (or any creative endeavor), and share your story with the world.