Pulp Fiction and Personal Legends

ImageQuentin Tarantino wrote Pulp Fiction in a one room apartment in Amsterdam with no phone and no fax over the course of three months.  And if you’re a red-blooded, breathing, mentally sane humanoid, you have an ongoing love affair with this cinematic masterpiece.

Tarantino’s hodge podge of Los Angelite criminals resemble your average Joe’s more than say, plantation slave Django or Lieutenant Aldo Raine.  They seem more like us, but in their steadfast fearlessness and “fuck society” attitudes we know they’re a cut above.  They’re freer.  They’re what we wish we were.

And maybe at first glance, Mia Wallace seems like no one to write home about, and certainly not someone to aspire to be.  She’s the wife of a millionaire gangster with a hefty coke habit, and not much else on her CV.  But her cool is magnified as she swings deftly across the dance floor at Jack Rabbit Slim’s.  We thirst for her “I’m the shit” mojo.  We covet her style.


And can you imagine what it would be like to hang out in the mind of Vincent Vega for an afternoon?  A brain, which on it’s way to kill people, only thinks of the differences between American and European McDonald’s, and what will and will not get you arrested in Amsterdam?  Absent of fear, free from worry – just hash, weed and a Royale with Cheese float around in there.


We imagine growing the kind of balls Butch Coolidge has.  The variety of testicles that will drag us back to our apartment where armed angels of death linger.  And as Butch cuts the rape of Marsellus Wallace short with a samurai sword, we think we could be that brave.  Cowardly caterpillars transforming into badass mothereffin’ butterflies.  And why not?

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Then there’s The Wolf, a man whose emotions are so far from screwing up his thought process, it’s like the guy was born without them.  He’s got 40 minutes to clean up a headless body shot by Travolta in the back seat of a Monte Carlo SS, and he does it like he’s picking up his dry cleaning.  The Wolf thinks fast and talks fast – a prime example of what Tarantino’s characters are all about: doing exactly what they want to do without getting in their own way.

Good movies take their fingers and strum your heart strings like a guitar.  I refer to the golden children in the film family – the Scorsese, Hitchcock, and Tarantino types.  When the credits roll, you leave the theater or press that “Power” button flying a little high, because you’ve been reminded of the best in you.  Through clicking reels, movies show you hope.  Basking in their glow, a kernel of fire burns in you with flames of potentials and possibilities.  Presented are not yet written scenes of what you could be.  Close-ups of life’s most beautiful features.


And I like to learn how to live from other people.  One of my favorite things is to take the parts of their stories I love the most and try to write them into my own.  Quentin Tarantino’s story, for example.  He didn’t write Pulp Fiction until he was almost thirty.  Just prior to that, he had a little success with Reservoir Dogs, but he worked at a video store up until then.  Until 27, 28, Quentin Tarantino was a nobody.  “I had been broke my entire adult life,” he says.

We should thread the guts and gusto of others through the eyes of our needles to create a quilt, an amalgamation of qualities, that make the person we want to be.


Hearst Castle.

What if every time I was tempted to cower in fear, I imagined I was The Wolf, a man cooler than ice cream?  What if I moved through my entire day pretending to be Maggie Fitzgerald from Million Dollar Baby?  A girl whose dream is so unrealistic, her determination so dogged, that her optimism has one foot in irresponsible and one foot in delusional.

Take out Chinese, draft beer, and a great wine = recipe for hotel room film festivals with my boyfriend.  On vacation last week, we watched Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s battle with cancer, while eating delivered Italian and drinking a Gordon Biersch wheat beer at a Best Western in Palo Alto.  A bit hungover, we knew Uma wouldn’t die from that heroin overdose, and we downed shitty hotel coffee and checked out at 12 p.m. in grossly overpriced hotel room in San Francisco.  Stories cast their voices over our vacation, and I liked what I was hearing.


I also read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho aloud on our drive.  The book is about a boy who travels to the Pyramids in Egypt because he has this recurring dream that there is treasure buried there.  Early on his journey, when the boy is about to give up, he meets an old king who tells him that the boy is following his Personal Legend, and so, he can never, ever give up.  He describes what a Personal Legend is:

“It’s everything you’ve always wanted to accomplish.  Everyone when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.  At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible.  They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives.  But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their personal legends.”


Big Sur, California

If others can transform a pathetic bank account and a video store job into piles of Academy Awards and the Cannes Film Festival, why can’t you?  What is your deepest dream for yourself?  What is the one you’ve always had?  And what’s stopping you from following it?  Coehlo said, “It’s the possibility of having a dream that makes life interesting.”  Now, and forever I hope his words will not be lost on me.

2 thoughts on “Pulp Fiction and Personal Legends

  1. I would have to say that this is your most inspired piece of work. You had me at Tarantino and walked me through the memories of movies I have watched and loved. You had me explore the attitudes and sheer confidence of being an authentic person with a bad ass persona. And, then you brought me back to the questions you ask of yourself, and then the questions you pose to me to ask of myself. Wow, girl, you are a bad ass yourself!

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