Saturday, April 30, 2011
--YOU ARE VERY FAMOUS AND I AM HAPPY ABOUT THAT
…I have a new story, "Inside the Heart of the City," up at 52/250 A Year of Flash, as well as another, "Orion Headless," up at Orion Headless for their anniversary issue.
Both are also here under words in print.
The "Orion" piece is pretty gritty, but it's actually based on a real situation that happened with a friend of mine, post-college.
Truly, sometimes real life is so odd or tragic, or so happenstance as if to seem unbelievable. I could give you a lot of examples. You could likely give me more.
…I just re-read "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," by Raymond Carver. You should, too.
If I don't read Carver every six months I feel as if my equilibrium is off. I get very dull. My teeth feel numb. My lips too. Especially my lips. I feel as if I'm talking to myself yet Myself is incapable of comprehending what I'm trying so desperately to tell Me.
I've written so many different things about Carver--poems, stories, blog posts, essays.
In a lot of ways, I feel like Ray is me, like he could have been my dad or best friend or brother or some guy at the end of the bar telling me, "Yeah, you should go ahead and be a writer. That way you might find answers to the things that keep you up at night."
I miss Ray.
…I fell in love for the first-time when I was 14. I know what you're thinking--14 year olds can't really get to that emotional level because they haven't matured enough, they don't have enough experiences, they're hopped up on hormones, blinded by beauty, just too damn young to really know better.
But I was there. I had reached that that emotional level. Definitely, I had.
Her name was Kristi.
She was one of the nicest people I've ever known. Even still. Even now.
She sang beautifully.
She had short hair, which is strange, because I have always been a "long hair guy."
She was pale and lanky, quite smart but giggled a lot nonetheless.
She was not a raving beauty by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, she was probably the plainest girl I've ever dated.
And still that did not matter. Not one bit. It was completely irrelevant.
Because I was crazy-mad in love.
In love with her essence.
…We went through a lot, Kristi and I:
my move to North Dakota.
a shocking return home.
a house fire.
my bad roller-skating skills.
a kitten I named for her ("Christopher")
the split of our two best friends, who we'd double-dated with.
my mother. (Oh, God, my mother…)
her parents' disappointment that I did not end up marrying their daughter (although, all these years, later, her parents and I still exchange Christmas cards and notes.)
…Yes, that was a long, long time ago.
And, to be sure, this post is not about me pining for Kristi. Not at all.
However, there was something about that time, and that connection, about the Kristi-and-I bond that was very unique and real and special.
It's taken me a long time to gain proper perspective.
I see that now.
That love is a kind of miracle.
Kristi-and-I wasn't about sex or being with a beautiful creature. It was about "Us."
And the "Us" part was really great.
It was the best part, actually.
…Don't get me wrong; sex is important.
Yet, sex gets all the headlines, when love is the better value.
Both of them together are pretty terrific.
…Have you seen "Bottle Shock?" Or "Sideways?" I used to think aficionados were too over-the-top when it came to wine. Sniffing around the rim of a glass. Dunking their nostrils into the bowl. Closing their eyes, half-orgasmic. Pinning the base of the glass between two fingers so as to better swish the wine around the walls until the liquid created a certain, small cyclone, an eddy, a wet rug or racing red...
And then there is always a verbal fawning. "Notes" are giving great scrutiny. The under-tones, that is. The hints of this or that, usually fruits--peach, black berry, cherry, apple, pear. Or tobacco. Even onion. This wine is smoky, that one wonderfully oaky. This selection is quite buttery.
It's like they're trying to describe what love is, how it seeps and delves, how it can be dark and tragic, or bright as hotel room sunshine, surprising, startling, coming out of nowhere when you least expect it.
That's quite a task.
I think we'd all be better off if we drank more wine. I bet people who drink wine are the best lovers. I'm willing to place a very large wager on that one.
On a Friday, here are some things I like from Scott Spencer, one of my favorite authors:
Where would be without these things, without contact, without caresses, without the knowledge that someone wants to touch you?
Everything has layers; every little string has a hundred knots.
It’s important to remember everything matters and it all makes a difference. Our lives are so short, and everything that happens in our life span is really important; there is nothing wasted, there’s nothing that doesn’t count. You can’t say I’m going to do this, but it doesn’t really count. It all counts, and everything is connected to everything else.
“Willing” – Scott Spencer
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
YOU CAN SEE SO MUCH FARTHER THAN ME
…I've been listening to Lucinda Williams. I like her album, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" best. Lucinda actually sounds like she eats a bowl or two of gravel for breakfast each morning. Or like someone's taken a blow torch to her throat. And she looks like she's been knocked around a bit, or maybe she got pretty loaded on gin and ran into some furniture. Maybe more than once.
However, Lucinda is also a little sexy in that rough, honkytonk GILF sort of way few older women can pull off.
But really, I like how honest her lyrics are.
I'm a big fan.
...I think what the world does not need is Donald Trump as America's president. And America certainly does not need Donald Trump's reality show, which is harder to watch than "Grease 2." Just having to look at The Donald for more than a few seconds is akin to waterboarding.
…What the world does need is more places like "Powell's Books" in Portland, Oregon. That store takes me out at the knees. While there this last time, I kept thinking I was Jennifer Aniston in "Bruce Almighty" where Bruce, as God, gives her these uber intense orgasms by using his mind alone, and Jennifer (“Grace”) has a series of chaotic body spams and shudders, knocking over shelves and splaying herself on the counter in the process.
That's what Powell's does to me. It makes me climax.
Yep, the world needs more bookstores.
…Yesterday I spent a good part of the morning going through the many, many stacks of printed pages I have resting (albeit) neatly on my floor. It looks a little bit like the newsroom scene from "All the President's Men," sans Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.
I have so much writing. OH-M-G.
What I do is, when I get up from my desk, I push Print. (I once--years and years ago when "word processors" were first available-- somehow erased 100 single-spaced pages of a novel. I almost threw up all over myself. So, I've been paranoid ever since.) The story or poem that comes out might be a polished thing that I've already sent somewhere or it could be a snippet of something where I like the first sentence, the sound of a certain word, the essential premise of the piece. Consequently, that's a lot of printing being done.
I haven't gone through those stacks of paper in a long time. Like, maybe a year. (That's an embarrassing confession, akin to admitting you haven't changed your underwear in a week. Or that you still wet the bed. Suck your thumb. Have a crush on Marsha Brady.)
At one point during the morning, I expected to look down and find my feet covered in oily black ink. Aside from the two novels, in the last two years I have written 700 stories/poems equating to 254,000 words. (Yep, I keep track.)
That's a lot of letters and commas. A lot of periods and vowels.
I have a lot of poetry. Oodles. Who's to know if it's any good?
I found quite a few touching pieces I wrote to you. One talked about how we first met. Many were heart-scorching and tragic. A couple made me chuckle. You are a good person. I hope someone has told you that lately and that when they did, you believed them.
…I pulled out a novel I started last year and did not finish. I was 167 pages into the thing when I quit it. That's a long gestation. I expected the writing to be awful, but you know what? It wasn't at all. The first many pages actually flew. I’m taking another shot at it. This is one of the two novels I've vowed to complete by year-end 2011, so I'd better get off my skinny ass and start writing.
…These are the things I like on a Wednesday:
"Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing." Nancy Ravanelli
"Dying gets everyone feeling alive." Rachel Glaser
"I haven't seen you in the daylight in a long time." from "Welcome to the Rileys."
"Ummm, Juicy Fruit." Chief in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Monday, April 25, 2011
--THIS SILENCE IS ALL MINE, BUT IT'S AN AWFULLY HEAVY WEIGHT TO LUG AROUND
…How do you feel this morning?
I feel flexible, fluid, gluey, as if I'm on the defense, waiting for something to happen. Expectant. Not necessarily anxious. But if there’s another shoe that’s going to drop, I wish it would hurry up and fall pretty soon. I’ve got things to do.
…A while back, I wrote a story about a guy who turns himself into a rubber band. The piece was called "Friends and Relatives of Rubber" and it was published in Metazen before I became an editor there. This morning I'm wondering if I should write a sequel to it. Maybe I should write a novel about this guy who turns himself into rubber so as not to be a nuisance to others.
What do you think?
…There are a shit ton of law enforcement dudes here at the Snoho Starbucks. Really. A shit ton. At one table are a gaggle of State Troopers. Two tables away are a group of Sheriffs. They all have leather belts with weapons hooked on them. The State Patrol have blue short-sleeve shirts with sharp creases. The Sheriffs have dust-colored, long-sleeve shirts with epaulettes and regal-looking patches that they may or may not have borrowed from Michael Jackson's wardrobe.
Why we need so many police-types in such a small town is a wonder, especially since these guys are fairly portly and seem to spend a lot of time here dining while lamenting about Charlie Sheen.
…I'm starting to think I'm a moody person. I suppose we all are, if we were to be honest. Circumstances or certain situations can take us to emotional states, as can music or movies, really great television, photography, theater, fiction or poetry…
I am in a mood this morning. My mood's color is akin to one of the sunsets I get to see most nights: pink-charcoal with notes of periwinkle.
My mood says, “Be dark today.”
Another section of my mood says, “Hey, relax a little. Look how grand things are! You should count your blessings.”
I don't really like the expression, "Count your blessings." I mean I get it--be grateful--but the phrase itself is so old-fashioned, kind of King James-ish.
The truth is, despite my grumblings, I really am a lucky guy.
…Last night was a continuation of my son’s education about all things artistic. Thus we had a viewing of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I'd not seen it in a couple of decades. What an outstanding film. It simply slays, and rivals work by either Tarantino or Copolla. Truly. Any number of the movie’s actors gave Oscar-worthy performances. You should watch it again and see for yourself.
…I really like "The Head and the Heart." Their single, "Lost in my Mind" is so settled and lovely. If you have ear buds and can play it loud, it's really good. If you can't do that, you won't get the full punch and it'll sound sort of "eh."
Here's the start of the song:
"Put your dreams away for now,
I won't see you for some time.
I get lost in my mind. I get lost in my mind.
Momma once told me, 'You're already home if you feel love'."
That's good advice, but it doesn't always feel that way.
Whenever I hear Dylan, I feel lucky to be alive.
"If you want to keep your memories, you first have to live them."-- Bob Dylan
"Don't hold too tight; allow it to come out how it needs to rather than trying to control it.
Let go of everything when you write. It won't begin smoothly. Allow yourself to be awkward. You are stripping yourself. You are exposing your life, not how your ego would like to see you represented, but how you are as a human being. And it is because of this that I think writing is religious. It splits you open and softens your heart toward the homely world." -- Natalie Goldberg, from "Writing Down The Bones."
Saturday, April 23, 2011
HOW IS YOUR DAY GOING SO FAR?
…I was at the first-ever HOUSEFIRE reading Thursday night, at Riley Michael Parker's place, as were about fifty other twenty-something hipsters.
It was a blast.
I had a blast. At Riley’s house, I did.
It was my first reading since college. I was a little nervous. The lights were dim. It was hard to see. I think I did okay. I believe I would give myself the grade of B- for that reading. I will get better at reading my own work aloud. Yes, I will.
At the HOUSEFIRE House Party there was cool music and cigarette smoke, lots of alcohol in many pretty colors, and a plate of pot brownies economically priced at a reasonable exchange rate of $3.00 per crunchy chocolate square.
I met just about everyone there. Some people I knew from online. Some people were shy, some funny and LOUD. Some were complex. Some were drinking too much.
…The drive down to Portland from my place is four hours. Even when I'm hauling ass, which I usually am, it's still four hours. I listened to Ryan Adams the whole way there, the whole way back. And I thought of you the entire time. That's a true story. Believe it if you want. I can't make up your mind for you.
…Do you ever do this: think that you are someone else living inside someone else's skin when what you really want is to be You living within your own true flesh? No? Yes?
Well, I do that. Sometimes, I do. I wonder what went wrong with my choices, my self-esteem, fate or God or my willingness to be the real Me. I question how I ended up here instead of there, where it seems like I was supposed to be. And after a tumble of thought on this subject, I wonder who the real Me really is.
There are moments when the real Me and the faux Me argue and struggle, like Jacob and the angel. There's never a winner.
The battle just gets rescheduled.
The audience becomes impatient.
Life chuffs forward, a little sore and out of breath, chest tight from over-working itself.
…Right now there are crimes being committed in someone's country; yours, mine.
If you've done something wrong, I'm going to bend down and whisper in your ear. I'm going to softly say, "It's okay. Nobody's perfect. I still care for you. And you are forgiven for whatever it was that is haunting you."
…Let's be honest: this morning I feel like molding fruit. Yes. I may even have left-over fruit flies buzzing around inside my skull.
Is that gross?
Of course it is.
See how disgusting I am? I've been warning you, or trying to.
Thank God I'm listening to Ryan Adams. I'm hinging all bets on R.A., which in itself is an act of desperation. Right at this moment he's saying, "Jesus, don't touch my baby." It's kind of sexy how he's singing it.
…I haven't written anything of worth in several days. That's nothing to be proud of. If you're a writer and don't write, are you still a writer? If you're a lover and haven't heard your partener say those three words in a while, are there two people in love, or just one? I mean, how would you even know?
…Obviously I am full of questions this morning. But anyway, hey, how is your day going so far?
…"We know what we are, but not what we may be."-- William Shakespeare
Thursday, April 21, 2011
--I WOULD TELL YOU THE FUNNIEST THING ABOUT ME, BUT YOU'D HAVE TO BE VERY LOOPED TO GET IT, AND BESIDES, THIS IS NOT REALLY THE BEST PLACE FOR GIVING CONFESSIONS, IS IT?
…Today I am driving to Portland for the first ever HOUSEFIRE reading at Michael Riley Campbell's pad. It should be mucho fun. Festivities start at 7pm. Cover charge is $5.00 and/or two six packs. Really.
…I am presently reading many books at the same time. (I never used to do that.) Only one is a novel, though, so it's easy to weave in and out of things.
At this moment in time, I think there may be more outstanding women writers than men. Maybe even twice as many. Three times as many, perhaps. At least that's how it seems to me.
Don’t shoot me, I’m the piano player.
...I've been listenting to "The Smiths" a lot lately. I used to think they were overrated but now I realize it was just me.
It's always fucking Me, isn't it?
…I watched "Momento" the other night. It's spectacular. You should go right now to Blockbuster or Red Box or Netflix and get it. Christopher Nolan is so very clever. He also did "Inception." I'd seen "Momento" before, but it was even better this time. Guy Pearce was brilliant. How did he not even get nominated for that performance?
…Yesterday I wrote you a very long message. I did. Really.
It was the sweetest thing ever. I didn't hold back. I made up new words because the old ones didn't have the right weight or texture. It was a nuanced note without any typos or smiley face emoticons. The sentences I strung together were similar to music. Some of it was sweeping woodwinds, others plinks with some brass. The choruses reached all the way up to the sun. It was easy to make beautiful sounds because the letter was about you, to you, entirely you-centric.
If you'd seen this note you would have cried until your eyes bled. But you also would have thanked me quite a bit and said, "I love you so damn much!" and you would have desired to kiss me, or more than that.
In the note I suggested some things. I made my intentions very, very clear, and though they had dangerous implications, you would have been cool with that. I hope so anyway.
The reason I didn't show you the letter is because I stuffed it inside an old-fashioned beer bottle, the kind with a stopper, the kind they probably still sell in Germany or Switzerland. It was an ale bottle. I put the note in there and I went to the ocean, specifically to the Puget Sound, and I side-armed that thing as far as I could. I heard it plop and saw it rock and waddle up on the surface of the water. I even gave the note and the bottle containing it an awkward little wave for good luck.
When you're at the beach this summer, keep your eyes peeled. With some good fortune and the current at its back, I imagine my message will be washing up on the shore where you are, say, sometime around the second week of June.
…I am parceling out Natalie Goldberg's book, "Writing Down the Bones" and trying not to read it too fast, sharing bits with you. Take a look at this:
"Writers are great lovers.
They fall in love with other writers. That's how they learn to write. They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over again until they understand how the writer moves, puases, and sees. That's what being a lover is: stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else's skin."
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
ALL OF THESE PEOPLE BELOW ME HAVE BETTER SKIN AND KNOW THE RIGHT ANSWERS
…I have two new poems, "The River" and "The Night It Ends" up at Calliope Nerve and also here under "Words in Print."
…I've been listening to:
The Head and The Heart
The Mountain Goats
John Legend is one sexy beast. Holy crap.
…I just got a prompt with the title "The Man Who Wore White Denim" and a few restrictions and so I wrote a story straight through in ten minutes and sent it off. We'll see.
…In the bath tub yesterday I wrote five poems and started two stories. They were all pretty good.
I have a lot of poetry in me. It's like blood cells. I can spill some and it'll reproduce more. I have too much poetry. I never know what to do with it, where to send it.
…People on Facebook are funny. They forget that they're real.
…I read Rachel Glaser's collection, "Pee on Water," yesterday. It's phenomenal. So quirky and funny and just very, very brilliant. You should buy her book. Really. You'll be glad.
…I am stretching now. I am reaching out both arms, both hands. I am an extended tree. My branches want to go where the sun hangs yet they follow the wind. Whichever is mightier wins. The wind is light, like me, but it wins whereas I don't.
In the tops of trees the breeze makes ocean sounds, or maybe it resembles a lonesome lion sending distress signals.
If I could be anything, I'd be the wind.
Wind can fly or float, cover great distances, eavesdrop, make different noises, stir things up, be mischievous, sooth, settle, distort, disrupt, aid and abet, enable, encourage, pelt and push, pull, propel, provide a place for our senses to extend.
When I step outside of this place, the first thing I'm doing is sending a wish into the wind. Let me know if you get it.
...I like these things on a Tuesday:
"there are cons to every gift." megan moira
"A poem is a naked person." Bob Dylan
“Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to remember someone you never met.” - Any Mouse
Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of timewith them.-- Unknown
Do what you love to do, and do it so well that those who come to see you do it will bring others to watch you do it again and again.-- Mark Victor Hansen
I haven't seen you in the daylight in a long time. You look beautiful. "Welcome to the Rileys."
I have enjoyed life a lot more by saying "yes" than by sayings "no".-- Richard Branson
Try not to become a man of success. Rather try to become a man of value. -- Albert Einstein
Success is like being pregnant; everybody congratulates you but nobody knows how many times you've been f***ked
“Though honey is sweet... do not lick it off a briar” Carrie anne
Sunday, April 17, 2011
N.O.L.Y.M.T.I.D. MEANS: NO ONE LOVES YOU MORE THAN I DO
…I have a new story, "Flower Child," up at REM Magazine, a site out of New Zealand, and also a poem, “Abducted” in Calliope Nerve. Both are also here under "Words In Print."
…Yesterday at the mall my son said, "I feel very serene right now."
Later he told me he wanted to "be a kinder person", even though he already is quite kind.
Kids are filled with magic.
…People at the mall always look happy. Have you ever seen a sad person at a shopping mall? Maybe you've seen a hysterical girl who just broke up with her boyfriend. Perhaps you've seen an angry security guard storming after a slick shoplifter. Over all, though, I bet when you’re at the mall you’ve only seen contented, joy-filled folk, people with a jump in their step, yes, maybe stabbing at their cell phones, but people smiling or half-grinning nonetheless.
I think that's because—at the mall-- you're surrounded by all kinds of stimuli. It's like cramming many museums into a tight space. You end up with a buffet battling for your senses.
Plus, there are lots of attractive people working at the stores, beautiful babes and dudes well adorned, fashionably disheveled.
And there's always a food court or other restaurants.
You can get a beer or cabernet. You can catch a buzz.
There is still a book store where you can pull down poetry volumes from the top shelf where they hide them.
You can grab a caffeine high because, likely, there'll be an espresso bar of some sort, Starbucks or otherwise, every ten yards.
So, my advice is: if you ever get depressed, go to the mall.
…There is a place.
You've never been there.
I haven't either, but I've seen it quite a few times in my head, at night or in daydreams.
The shuffling and settling surf is the only soundtrack. If we step outside the straw hut, a light breeze might kick up some sand across our ankles and we can see skiffs in the distance and one or two blue kites zigzagging in the white sky.
In this place the wait staff have telekinesis. They bring you what you want when you want it without you having to ask.
See? Here come two Coronas with lime and a platter of pineapple and berries. He smiles at us, says, "You two have good times here, yes?"
Someone’s brought us oil and towels.
We have pen and paper to go longhand.
Lamps on night stands.
You look terrific tanned. Your hair's gotten so much lighter, too.
I didn't think your lips could look any fuller, but they do.
What a smile, so shy and mischievous you've become.
“Hey,” I say, when I see your eyes start to water, “what’s wrong?.”
You punch me softly. “This is perfect,” you say.
Your eyes are no longer green. Here, they match the ocean impeccably. I can see all the way through the sea to my toes underwater. I can see through your corneas all the way to my soul, and I look so damn happy.
At night we wear linen and sandals. Who knew we could be this hungry?
The Gipsy Kings play through lofted speakers on a veranda. The air smells like honeysuckle and lilac. We slow dance for a smoldering sunset which is just now dipping its waist into the middle of the far horizon.
Your arms rest on my shoulders.
Your fingers play in my hair.
The humidity has done fantastic things to your own hair. Ropes of it roll and unwind everywhere. I can pull myself to safety, though there’s no need now.
Your breath smells like mint from a Mojito.
When we kiss, the world tilts and sways, but there’s no falling down here.
You start to shimmy to a Spanish conga drum. Oh my, you’ve got swag.
You doe-si-doe me as if I’m blindfolded.
Your skin tastes of coconut and cream. It has the answer to every question. Even the wind can’t wipe them away.
And your lips have now become wet brushes. You paint lavishly. You spill some here and there, but that’s okay. Go ahead. Paint. Paint by numbers. Paint stream of consciousness.
When you’re finished, there are landscapes and portraits, pictures of people in cabs caressing hardily, throbbing museums and some of dry toast.
My favorite is a train station.
And then it’s my turn.
at the hip.
The beach and the moon
and the moon’s face
reflected on the creased surface of the water
beckons us on,
and the peer pressure is nothing
compared to the pressure of--
yank my hair back
and demand to know,
How did you ever find this place?"
…"The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time. The ones who never yawn or say a common place thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars" ~ Jack Kerouac
Friday, April 15, 2011
SOMEONE SHOULD PLAY THAT DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL SONG AND DANCE ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER IN THEIR UNDERWEAR. I'M PRETTY SURE THAT WOULD REALLY MAKE SOMEONE ELSE'S DAY.
…I have a new story, "Traveling Mercies" up at 52/250 A Year of Flash and also here under "Words In Print."
I like the story a lot. It's tragic, of course, but the voice is different (for me) and the father felt very real and human.
…"All My Children" and "One Life To Live" have been cancelled. What does this mean?
Maybe it's a reminder that things die, even television programs.
Everything is finite except infinity.
Change is the only thing we can count on.
In college, I had a mad crush on AMC's Jenny Gardner. I used to skip my Statistics class to watch her and the show. I did not do so well in that class but I stayed current on the AMC story line. Kim Delaney, who played Jenny Gardner, is now on "Army Wives" which I've seen but do not watch compulsively.
What do crushes mean?
What purpose do Soap Operas provide?
Is it a good thing to be curious?
I think so.
…A couple of times now, within the last week, I have written poems with another person. They've just been quick bursts of spontaneous writing, tag-teaming with the other author, nothing formalized or pre-arranged. It's been fun. Sometimes it's best not to think about the words, or even the process of writing them, but rather let them spill out of your head like hot jelly.
Maybe you and I should write a poem together. What do you think? The topic could be about anything. It could be about your favorite chair, pet, place or person. It could be about the very thing that you most detest, whatever that is.
…Great retail stores are similar to museums or art galleries. Take "Anthropology" for instance. Every time I go in there, I walk around with my mouth gaping, ogling what they've put on the walls, what's hanging from the ceiling, an arrangement, certain clever folding techniques, usage of color and shadow and space and loft. Last week they had these wonderful globes dangling from twine. The spheres were different sizes but they were large and each one was made of CORKS, as in WINE CORKS. How clever. And not only that, but real, living plants were growing out of parts of them.
Whoever is responsible for Anthropology’s interior designs is a genius. They should contact me and I will then tell them how brilliant they are. I will really pile on the compliments and adoration. If they (this person, or troupe) ever has a blue day, they need only contact me and I will cheer them right up. They will feel god-like by the time I'm through.
…I realized that I write about water a lot. I live on a lake and it's always lying right outside my windows. Today the surface is muddy green and slightly wrinkled, like elephant skin after the animal's just slopped out of a huge African puddle.
Water is a wonderful metaphor for many things, don't you think?
…Next week I am doing a reading in Portland with Riley Michael Parker and a gaggle of other hipsters. I haven't read aloud to an audience since Creative Writing in college. Oh, I've done oodles and oodles of public speaking, but not an actual reading where it's my words and I'm trying to find the correct cadence and lilt.
I'm excited to do it. I learned a lot from listening to other writers in New York and DC.
I have two edgy pieces. I'm not sure which one to choose. Either "Medicine and Meat" which starts: "You wouldn't expect a little girl like me to be able to carry such a long penis inside her, yet I do." Or, "Crowded House" which begins: "I am his fat girlfriend. He likes me that way, me fat and him trim and married." Both stories have been published before and are here under "Words in Print."
What do you think?
…Last night my son and I watched "Gattaca." I'd seen it several times prior but my boy hadn't, so I rented it for us to view together. It held up nicely. Such a clever film. And Jude Law is pretty brilliant.
…It's Friday and my daughter is coming home for the weekend. This makes me very happy.
…"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work." -- Pat Clifford
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
IF I GET ANY WEAKER I MIGHT TURN INTO KINDLING
…I have new stories up: "Oriole" at Fix It Broken, "Identical Opposites" at Pure Slush, and "Thieves" at Milk Moon Review. All are also here under "Words In Print."
…Tonight I got my 400th acceptance. That’s since I started sending stuff out in May of '09. It's a bit of a rush. I still remember the moment, at age nine, deciding I wanted to be a writer. (but holy hell, look how much time it's taken me to get around to it.)
I have a list of ten different goals/resolutions for the year. Getting to 500 acceptances is one, so I'm doing okay in that regard. Now I just need to get my first story collection published, find an agent for last year’s novel, and finish the other two novels I've already begun.
…Yesterday I wrote three stories, one while in the bathtub. The suds piece was about a couple having sex. The whole thing occurs as the pair are having intercourse and you're in the mind of the man. Well, you're also kind of in the body of the man, and therefore, because of what's happening, you're also inside the body of the woman, literally and metaphorically.
I don't usually write about sex because it can be a cheap trick. But when it’s a bit cerebral as well as sexy, maybe even a tad dark, well, hey, I can do that without hesitation.
And yeah, so these two people having steamy intercourse have been divorced from one another for some time, yet they keep coming back to each other, trying to recapture an intimacy that they can't seem to find with anyone else.
The story is called, "Muscle Memory." I think it's pretty good actually.
…I just read Gregory Sherl's collection of linked stories called, "I Have Touched You." It's a little piece of shrapnel waiting to rip you into a jar of Ragu. Yowzah.
And I'm reading a classic on the craft of creativity called, "Writing Down the Bones," by Natalie Goldberg. She has so many wonderful things to say about writing and art and, well, life really. Natalie studied meditation with a Japanese Zen master for over a decade, so she incorporates a lot of that into her habits and exercises.
I’ve also learned some new words that are fun to say: zafu and mudra, for instance.
..I think xTx is very clever. Even her little posts on Facebook are witty. Today her book jacket wanted to have sex with Bradley Sands' book jacket. So is Colby Carlson. Colby is beautiful and funny in a disarming way that is always unexpected. And Lara Konesky should be doing standup somewhere. Everything Lara says is funny. She likes to take pictures of herself on the toilet, usually going number 2, and I know, I know how bizarre that sounds, but it is all very hysterical in a Howard Stern sort of way, though funnier, even, and less uncouth.
…"Parenthood" is the best show on television. It makes me smile, laugh and sometimes weep. Yep. You should watch it. Your neighbors and relatives should, too. Your cats might even like it. I know for sure your dog would be howling, not to mention your kids. It's on Tuesdays at 10:00 pm, but if you're not a night owl, you can always record it. Trust me: you won't be sorry.
…I have been listening to:
Hole "Live Through This"
Better Than Ezra
and right now, precisely at this moment, I am listening to The Mountain Goats. I had no idea they have 16 albums. Holy crap. They sound like a folky REM, yet their lyrics actually make sense.
…One of these days we are going to see each other face-to-face and it will be fantastic. It will be something else. I will say, “Oh, hey, it’s you.” And you will dip your chin and say, “Yeah, it’s me.” And we will be so cute together.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
IF YOU WANT TO COME IN, DON'T BOTHER KNOCKING BECAUSE I'M IN SUCH A HURRY TO SEE YOU
…I have a new story, "Sightless" up at 52/250 A Year of Flash and also here under "Words in Print."
…Today is the Sabbath, the day of rest, but for me today is about being strong and focused. I have been trying to be strong. Today. All day, I have.
If you could see me, you would not think I am so strong. At least not physically. I am lean, thin really. I doubt that I could bench press 100 lbs. Truly. I doubt it. Heavy sacks of sugar or potatoes are often difficult for me to load and unload from the auto. Still, I do pushups and I empty the dishwasher. That's enough weight-lifting for me. I make myself useful even if I cannot be stronger.
…Once I did an Alice In Wonderland inspection of myself and I discovered that I am made up of string, tarnished rings and broken things. I have a gory center. Walking around in it is like sloshing through muddy water with rusty swales. It is not an activity to be undertaken without adequate boots.
Everyday now, I am getting less pretty, less taut. You may say, "But that is called the aging process, it happens to all of us," and you would be incorrect. Some people are getting prettier. Right now, many millions of folks are. You, for instance. You're more beautiful each time I see you.
When I was younger, I hid in corners. I learned to get good at the act of hiding. It became a survival technique. My favorite was a bathroom no one used. Even though the shower curtain was ratty and the air smelled briny, I would hover over a heat vent and read my library book. I read so much. I live in a big house now, with lots of heat vents all over the place, some even in the ceiling. They are good reminders. Like metal, striated scars.
I think I am not so different or so alone in all this. I think that we are all, all of us, the things we've done and the things that have been done to us. We are the imprints of the people we've ever loved, the people we've always wanted to love.
We are trips in cars late at night. We are stained clothing. We are ideas and spilled blood. We are pressed shirts and big, juicy messes. And I, well, I am messier than most.
I try not to feel sorry for myself, though, because really, what's there for me to complain about? I have a very nice view out my window. I can see ducks and cool blue lake swells and some bored fishermen on their broken boat. Across the way, the wind is making the evergreens greet me with waving limbs.
Life is beatiful. Well, isn't it?
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I KNOW WHERE THIS IS ALL GOING TO END UP AND SO I SAY WE STOP RIGHT NOW.
IN OTHER WORDS, RIGHT NOW I AM THINKING VERY SERIOUSLY ABOUT HOW MUCH I ENJOY THE COLOR RED.
…I have a new poem, "Bruised" up at Yes, Poetry and also here under "Words In Print."
…It's a peculiar feeling sending your work to places so that other eyes and minds will read it and formulate some sort of opinion/conclusion about your voice, skill level, the words you chose and how you prefer to string them together. It's an unsettling feeling when you have, say, a LOT of writing out there, say, many, many stories and poems, a novel and a story collection. It makes you not want to write anymore until you hear back. After all, those are your kids floating around, the babes you brought into this brazen world, the toddlers turned young adults that you tended to, raised with love and patience, and now they're gone and you've not heard from them and you're wondering if they are okay, have they met someone, are they just lazy in not getting back to you, maybe the words are busy busy busy and oh so happy in the new place they've found because that place is not with me, and--because it's not with me--it's therefore different and far more interesting and stimulating. Maybe that's the situation. Or worse, maybe they met someone who was abusive. Maybe my words got in with the wrong crowd and now they're homeless and hungry and too ashamed to let me know that.
See how vulnerable one can get?
I miss those words. Their silence makes me lonely and somewhat worried. I'm rooting for their happiness, for their bright futures. And I do want them to meet someone and find a good home. I just need to know that they're fine. If you've seen my words out there, please tell them to call or write.
…I am not sleeping a whole lot. I stay up late, get up early, and then in between, I have spans where I wake up and my mouth is too dry and maybe I'm having night sweats or maybe I'm stuffed up from allergies or perhaps I'm wide awake from a vivid dream I had, one of those clear-as-Azul-oceans-in-cancun-so-it-must-be-a-real-dream dreams, and it's sort of scary, this dream and how much it feels like reality, and maybe it's because I don't want the dream to be real that I lay there making shadow animals out of the shapes on my ceiling, no different than when I was a kid but stayed awake for other reasons.
I'm hoping that sleep is overrated.
I'm counting on three hours to do the trick, get me through, up and over the hump, whatever hump it is I'm struggling to traverse.
I used to sleepwalk. Sleepwalking is no fun. Of course, you don't really know if you're having a good time or a bad time during the actual occurrence because you're basically a zombie, but AFTERWARD, in the morning, when you are told what you did, well, it's sort of a horrifying feeling. You wonder, did I really just stand at the mirror, drooling and ogling myself for fifteen minutes? Did I really spend an hour at 2am reorganizing my bathroom medicine cabinet? Are you sure I did those things? Why would I do those things? If I did those things, then maybe I have something seriously wrong with me.
I think sleepwalking is creepy and I'm glad I haven't done it for a while. I guess insomnia isn't so bad by comparison.
…I just played Nirvana, "You Know You're Right" really loudly in the car and the convertible fabric was still shuddering after I closed the door and locked it.
I can't imagine Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love would still be married if Kurt hadn't killed himself. However, I can imagine John and Yoko still together if what happened hadn't happened.
…I like these things on a Thursday:
I used to think as I looked out on the Hollywood night—there must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.—Marilyn Monroe
When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find that they are not it. -- Bernard Bailey
Whether you can do a thing or not, you are right. --Henry Ford
--Your car goes where your eyes go.
--The true hero is flawed. The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles—preferably of his own making—in order to triumph." --From The Art of Racing in the Rain
It has bothered me all these years that I don’t paint like everyone else. --Henri Matisse
Will and I could hardly wait for the morning to come to get at something that interested us. That’s happiness. Orville Wright, co-inventor of the airplane
I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions. Augusten Burroughs
Junk is an honest word. --From "Parenthood"
Procrastination is the thief of time. –Edward Young
Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off. Ellen DeGeneres
The best doctor in the world is a veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what’s wrong—he’s got to know. --Will Rogers
Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis
Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. --H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
DON’T KID YOURSELF, YOU AND I ARE TWO SLICES OF THE SAME ORANGE
…What is happening today is that nothing is happening. Oh, sure things are happening in other parts of the world and in other houses and even in other rooms in this house, but here, precisely here--in this office overlooking a lake--nothing is occurring. Outside, on the water there are waterfowl dunking under the wrinkled gray surface. That is happening, but it is not happening here. The eagle just flew by and maybe winked at me. He could tell I didn’t have anything going on in my office.
What I could do is I could poke myself in the eye with a pencil. I could gouge my eye out. That would hurt like hell, but it’d be me making something happen. It’d be ridiculous, self-destructive and stupid, but it’d be me creating an occurrence.
Let’s see… What do I wish I could right here in this office?
I wish I could go get my Taylor guitar and whip out the world’s most wonderful love song, replete with soaring choruses and lyrics that would be profound but also easily understood.
I wish I could paint a picture of a tin man, only his metal would be bright, Asian red. Sunlight would hit the canvas just so and the paint would look wet even when dry, and it would undulate.
I wish a new puppy would come barging in here, all rambunctious and happy to see me, his tail beating my ankles, his nose wet and cold.
I wish Raymond Carved would come in right behind that little dog and say, “Hey there, partner. I’ve always wanted to shake your hand and do some talking about writing with you.”
I wish I could make my children young again, me young again, too.
I wish I could make you appear. Right here. Right now. That would be some kind of happening.
…Here’s the randomness I like on a Tuesday:
“Far more than any other medium, books contain civilizations, the ongoing conversation between present and past. Without this conversation we are lost.” Jason Epstein
"The stuff people call impossible is just the stuff they've never seen before." What Dreams May Come
"Some day, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long continued process." Phillips Brooks
"Writing is not an indulgence. You must give up other indulgences to write."
"The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life." Dan Zadra
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I THINK YOU HAVE THE WORLD’S BEST SMILE
…The writing bug has returned. Well, first my insomnia continues. Today I awoke at 3:30, yesterday 4:30. I read. I wrote. I drank coffee thicker than motor oil. I did not use cream or add sugar. I made sure it burned my lips and tongue, made sure it scorched my throat. Then I wrote some more--12 poems and three stories. The poems were very tragic. Surprised, aren't you? The poems were all very dark, bitter and vitriolic. They will probably stay dark, unseen from anyone's eyes but mine. That's okay. It felt good to expunge those words.
…I saw "Insidious" yesterday. It was creepy. Especially the first 3/4's. The last 1/4 was too over the top and silly. But I jumped a lot and shredded my napkin and squirmed, so that's always a good sign that a fright film is effective.
…My son and I spend a lot of time together. I'm very grateful for that. He's a terrific kid. I wish I could properly convey how wonderful he is. Yesterday, after eating crepes, we were listening to Rocket Summer (his pick) and I told him a story about two squabbling writers (I might as well have been describing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) when he says, "Why can't we just all get along?"
He also told me that I always have to be right.
He also claimed I can be a jerk, as well as an ass.
But he said he loves me and I believe that to be true.
…Celebrities seem to become a whole lot more popular once they die. Think: Michael Jackson.
I remember people making fun of Elizabeth Taylor a lot. They talked about her divorces, her weight gain, her friendship and staunch support of M.J. during his child molestation trial. But now that she’s dead, people have put her on par with the iconic woman she so infamously protrayed; Cleopatra.
I always liked Liz. She was so beautiful, the very definition of the word "attractive" in that you could not look away from an image of her. I'd also never heard of anyone having purple eyes.
I'm glad people are showing her lots of love. It’s just too bad we have to die in order to be appreciated.
…On Sunday, these are some things I love (in no particular order):
Photography, especially black and white, especially portraits
My son, my daughter
The Airborne Toxic Event
Diesel (the store, the brand)
Certain swear words, especially when used by certain females at certain moments
Quentin Tarantino films
Sprees, especially the chewy kind, especially the tropical chewy kind
The feel of puppy fur
How happy puppies always are to see you
Making people laugh, making you laugh
The beauty of a good snowfall
Music, always music
Round Table pizza
Friday, April 1, 2011
DYING A LITTLE EACH DAY IS REALLY TIME-CONSUMING -- Justine Middleton
…I have two new poems, "Veteran" and, "Veteran's Reunion" up at Rusty Truck (for their special Vietnam Issue), a sad story, "The Truth About Leprechauns and Miracles," as well as a short story about a sweet-but-damaged homeless woman called, "Lady," up at 52/250 A Year of Flash.
I sort of love the character in "Lady." I feel like I know her and want to take care of her, make her soup, run her a hot bath and tell her it's all going to be okay, that's she's safe, that she's still a princess after all.
The poems and stories are also here, under "Words In Print."
...I need to tell you this. I need to confess. After reading Alissa Nutting's story collection, "Unclean Jobs For Women and Girls," I felt inept as a writer. I felt as if I'd had several teeth knocked out. I knew I'd gotten a few ribs broken, and my jaw felt sore and slack from either laughing, grinning, or going, WTF? How does somebody think up this stuff?
My side ached and my hair felt tingley--all the hairs on my body were brushing up against each other, actually--and then I sort of felt funny for that visceral reaction, thinking, Hey, it's only a book. These are only stories. Chillax.
But she's that good. The collection is a marasala stew of dark-meets funny-meets clever-meets quirky--meets freaking brilliant.
At several points while reading I also felt castrated. That wasn't a very pleasant sensation. No, not at all. Sort of like getting circumcized in slow motion. But I think that's the way she wanted a male reader to feel; our gender often deserving brutal payback.
She is, this Alissa Nutting person, quite spectacular. You should buy her book. You won't be sorry.
…I am in a confessional mood/state of mind. You have to understand that this is rare for me. By nature, I am shy and inhibited and slow to trust or confide. I am still a withdrawn twelve year old boy writing bad poetry by himself on the far back desk of the library at lunch hour. I don’t talk a lot. I'm a better listener than I am a talker.
So I am confessing for the here-and-now reader that I sometimes, maybe even often (too often--of course, hell.) praise a fellow writer's story when I shouldn't, when it's maybe not that strong, maybe even when it's not very good at all.
Why do such a thing? Good question. Well, usually, I think, Look, I've already taken the time to read this, so the easy part is reply, find something good to say. There's got to be something good. And almost always there is at least one bit that has merit.
But then I'll feel guilty about compromising my integrity with wanting to make the other person feel better. (My daughter once said to me, "Other people's happiness is your drug.")
Or else what might happen is I read a story and it's just sort of eh, but I'll see a whole slew of people who've commented, saying it's brilliant, and I'll think, Is this really brill and I've just not been able to discover why? Maybe it's me. Maybe I expect to much out of writing.
Maybe I'm the real problem.
Here are some short snippets from Alissa Nutting's collection:
"--She was trying on bizarre clothes--there was a shroud that looked fiercely spacelike yet medical, like a gown one might wear to get a pap smear on Mars.
--The secret to having sex with people who make disgusting sounds is to out-moan them. It gets them there quicker, too, which is half the battle.
--I know from experience that her tears aren't clear; they're a strange gray color like weird steam. I always figured they were mixing with her makeup until I realized she didn't wear any (not to be commercialized but she could use it. Pastel, bare minerals). Her face is kind of gray, too, because she never goes outside; she fear nature like it's a rapist or murderer. But despite not having sun damage, she got wrinkles before her time from watching constant news television and subconsciously reproducing Dan Rathers facial expressions.
--'No HARM? (On TV) You look like sex freaks to the entire world! You should see the faces you're making! They're not even attractive. I'm saying this objectively. You look carsick and blinded by headlights."
'It's not about how we look to other humans, Sis. Third eye. There's more to see than you think.'
'Ugh, it's on the TV right now.' There's a long silence; I can almost hear her eyes squinting. 'What the hell is that, a tattoo?'
I decline to answer, as Sister wouldn't understand. I recently had a bottle of wine tattooed on my mons.
--'Your boyfriend is a creep. Did you know he tried to hit on my at Thanksgiving. I was putting the cranberry sauce into Tupperware when I felt a stiffness on my leg and turned around. He was down on the floor like a crab rubbing his…his…extension near my ankles. His pants were that new kind of denim, the stretchy stuff. I could feel everything.
'He is a wonderful lover, Sis.'