Saturday, December 31, 2011


...Hey, I really hope you have a magical New Year's Eve and a fantastic new year in 2012.

…Before I forget, I had a couple of things published recently:
“Just Do What I Do” at Pipe Dream
“Together” at Rusty Truck
Both are here under “Words In Print.”

…They’re all important, of course, but a year like 2011 felt especially important in the scheme of things, in the scheme of learning and growing and fucking up.

As usual, I pushed myself to be productive, but what was even more important was meeting people, doing things and going places that took me well out of my comfort zone.
(Being uncomfortable is often a really good idea if you find yourself in a rut.)
(Being uncomfortable is important provided there’s a potential happy ending in the outcome.)

At AWP, I was completely overwhelmed.
I felt like a little kid peeking through a cracked door, listening to adults discuss classical music or quantum physics.
Even with snow storms that disallowed many from attending, there were still 9,000 writers there.
I felt very small and insignificant. For a good part of the time I felt lonely.
However, I did meet some of my favorite internet writers/people, thereby making them real--Roxane Gay, xTx, Aubrey Hirsch, Heather Fowler, Nicole Monaghan, Matt Bell, Rae Bryant, Randall Brown, Steve Himmer, Mel Bosworth, Tim Jones-Yelvington and many others….

…I saw Junot Diaz, listened to Mary Gaitskill read.
I stood in line for coffee behind a frail, bug-eyed Joyce Carol Oates.

…I did my first readings ever—at The Cell Theater in New York City, for Housefire in Portland, OR, and twice at Iowa City, Iowa.

I read for two audio podcasts/radio shows.

I did ten or so interviews…

The Summer Writers Workshop was a thrill.
Being in Iowa is the opposite of being in New York, yet for a writer, Iowa City is hallowed ground.
You’re walking where Carver walked. Where Robert Frost and John Berryman walked.

I had stories accepted. I had stories rejected. I ended the year with just under 600 acceptances in the last two and a half years. Once I hit 500, something odd happened. I felt deflated and uninspired. I slowed way down. I got introspective. Roxane G. helped set me straight about quantity versus quality.

I did not get an agent for my novel this year, nor did I get a publisher for my story collection(s). So those goals will swing into the New Year.

My mother died this year. She’d been in ill health for quite some time and her death was not sudden nor a surprise.
Still, I didn’t expect it to affect me the way it did. She was a complex woman, a pivotal figure who shows up in the majority of my writing and who perhaps is the main reason why so much of my writing is dark.
My father asked me to write her eulogy, which was extremely difficult for several reasons, chief being the challenge of portraying her honestly without denigrating her.
But I did, I wrote it and read it.
A writer friend posted the eulogy on her wall (which was perfectly fine by me) and a huge number of people commented. Most of them misread what I wrote, thinking I'd made her superhuman when what I was really trying to do was make her "humane." That difference of perception really caught me off guard. It made me wonder how much of my writing is misinterpreted. It made me question my ability to make a poignant point that is clear enough to be understood.

I've got my New Year's Resolutions done for 2012. If you want, I can share them with you.
As I've said, there are some carry-over goals from 2011.
A lot of them are statistical.
Taken as a whole, it sort of makes me look like a "human doer" again, as opposed to a human being.
But I need that--landmarks in the sand. Lots of stakes in the ground. I can't wait for a muse to show up. Otherwise I get lazy. Life really is short. I'm more than half way through mine. I wanted to be a writer at age nine and waited almost forty years to finally do so.
I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Friday, December 30, 2011


…As we approach the new year, here are some things I recently happened upon that have meaning for me:

"There's a line in Don McLean's 'American Pie' that goes, 'Do you believe in rock 'n' roll?/Can music save your mortal soul?' and I say, no. I don't believe in rock 'n' roll. There's always a great side to it, and there's also a phony, bullshit side, which is a lot of guys selling sex, and this sort of all-American confidence, and selfishness and getting wasted, and all that is a way of life that transcends all others, and I don't believe in that. But can music save my mortal soul? yes. I write when I'm falling apart. For some reaon that's when the songs come. I never sit down to write a song. It happens on its own. And I allow it to. Then why do I feel the need to record and be in a band and all that? I don't know. There's an element of this that I don't want to figure out."
--Christopher Owens, of the band "Girls"

"Peace and love is all good, but it's nothing without forgiveness."
--Bob Dylan

"Negative self-talk is toxic to a person's self-esteem, sense of efficacy and, ultimately, their self-confidence. We start to buy into our own negative press and begin to believe that just because we think and feel something negative, that that must be the truth of the situation. All of this poison feeds a generalized sense of helplessness, which saps our motivation and energy to be proactive and try new things, and undermines our ability to be creative.
The good news is we can break the cycle at any point…We have the choice to believe in the good or the bad about ourselves. It's never too late to change the direction of your thinking and start the journey to a more optimistic, happier and healthier version of you."
--Arlene Cook, clinical psychologist

"The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies."
--Ann Patchett

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


…I never read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" or the other two in the series, but I did see the film yesterday.
Then I saw it again today.
Saw it twice in two days. I've never done that.
The film sizzles. Holy Hell, does it ever.
Rooney Mara is mesmerizing. She needn't even speak to convey her strength and fear, her complexity and vulnerability. There's never been a character on screen like the one Ms. Mara plays. Someone please throw an Oscar nod her way.
The score, written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, is superb. It takes the heartbeat out of your chest and stuffs it inside your eardrums, ratcheting up the tension (of which there is mounds and mounds) through the entire film. At 2 hours 40 minutes, the movies ends in a blink.
There is a fair amount of candid sex.
There are several brutal scenes, including two gruesome rapes.
Many people die, or are shown to have died.
But this is as fine a film as I've seen in a while. It's got it all--tension, spot on acting and casting, wonderful cinematography, action, drama and it never talks down to the audience.
It's a must-see movie.

…There's a new site called Wish Tank @ where you can post what you would want to have happen on your death bed. It's kind of a cool idea.

…I got side-tracked trying to write a love poem for a site today doing a themed issue. Usually pieces just jump out of me, but this one, like the last couple of stories, has been a bit constipated.

…There might not be a more romantic song than "18th Floor Balcony" by Blue October. Please see for yourself.

…Something that makes me very happy is hearing children laugh or giggle. That's the sad thing about getting older--you spend less time around kids.

…Studies show the most common birthdate is September 16th, exactly nine months from now. It has to do with a combination of the rainy season colliding with the holidays.
Get some rest tonight.

…I like these a lot:

“The first product of self-knowledge is humility.” Flannery O’Connor

“She sat and thought of only one thing, of her mother holding and holding onto their hands.” Eudora Welty

"Fifteen years old is the middle of my life, regardless of when I die." Edouard Levé

"Your Jesus is my mother is someone else’s turtle." Sugar

Monday, December 26, 2011


…Yesterday I woke before anyone.
The house was quiet although you could hear the wind pressing in against the windows, sort of eavesdropping. I read some. I turned on the fire. It was nice and peaceful.
…After present opening, I colored with my two kids. That was peaceful, too. It takes a lot of patience to color.
…I got a lot of music in the mail from Amazon: The Civil Wars, Fences, Mayer Hawthorne, City in Colour, new Cold Play. It’s all good.
Oh, and Christina Perri. I’m not a big tattoo fan, but she’s kind of hot with hers. And “Jar of Hearts” may be the greatest female FU song since Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.“
Sample: “Who do you think you are? You’re gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul. So don’t come back for me.”

…There’s a lot of writing online. Massive amounts. Quite a bit of it is mediocre. A fair amount is just plain bad. It makes me wonder if mine is any good. Perhaps I just think it is.

…I love pens. I have a bad habit of filching the ones I like when I’m at a restaurant or doctor’s office. I prefer the fine point kind that make your penmanship middle school sharp.

…The day before yesterday I wrote a story called “Hominy” about a poor kid raised by a cruel German grandmother.
Yesterday I wrote a story called “Tiny” about a bus driver named Tiny who is actually 400 pounds. I kind of fell in love with the guy.

…The other day I made a list of my new year’s resolutions and after I was finished something weird happened so that when I clicked on the document the words crumped into the black messy cluster, the way a spider folds in on itself it if gets too wet.
So I’ll have to make a new list.
People have accused me of being too goal-oriented, too fixated on numbers.
One person said I should try being a “human being” instead of “human doing.” That particular person wasn’t being cruel when they said that particular thing about me.
I’ve tried that person’s advice. I tried it most of the last half of 2011. It made me feel lazy. I was lazy. I got very little done. I wasted a lot of life.
So in 2012 I’m going to be a “human doing.” I’m going to get shit-tons done.
Just watch me.

…”My favorite sexual position is long division.” Madison Langston

Saturday, December 24, 2011


…I’m back after five days down south in Mexico.
For whatever reason, while I was gone I got quite a few responses from queries:
--one rejection on a story collection I’d sent a publisher
--two rejections on my novel from agents, both form letters
--and, one request for material (the first 50 pages) of the novel.
I’ll count that last one as a win. Just getting over the query hump is a feat in and of itself.
A body’s got to start somewhere, right?

…I didn’t read as much on vacation as is my habit. In the past I’d plough through a dozen or more books.
This time it was just two…

…One was about finding God in unexpected places.
In the book, I learned lots of random yet fascinating things.
--In it, I learned that half the world’s citizens still get by on less than two dollars a day.
--In it, I was reminded that there are more stars than grains of sand on earth i.e., there are over 100 billion galaxies, each containing in excess of 400 million stars.
--Polar bears aren’t really white, but there hairs are actually transparent, acting like fiber-optic tubes that trap in heat, making them seem white.
--On their trips south, some geese maintain a speed of 50 miles per hour and fly 1,000 miles before making their first stop for rest.
--In the book, I learned that 2 weeks after 9/11 only five percent of the missing bodies had been found. Rescue dogs got so discouraged that their handlers had to play games with them to keep their interest up. The dogs searched all day and found maybe a piece of clothing or an elbow or scrap of skin. They cut their paws on the sharp edges of steel and whine in frustration because, like the human rescuers, they had so little to show for their efforts…
--In the book was a wonderful excerpt from Phillip Roth’s, “The Ghost Writer”:
“I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence, then I turn it around. Then I look at it and turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning.”

…The other book I read a fantastic collection of non-fiction feature pieces written by two time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten.
The book is called “The Fiddler in the Subway” and it has some terrific true life stories, many of which seem to entwine the impossible with reality.
The title story is about an experiment The Washington Post undertook by having Joshua Bell—who received The Avery Prize, recognizing him as the finest classical musician in the world—play violin at a busy bus station in affluent, erudite Washington D.C.
…Here are some excerpts:
--“The idea was to discover if in a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”
…It was January 12th, in the middle of rush hour. In the next forty-three minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Only three stopped to listen, while 27 gave money for a total of $32 and change.
Bell, a child prodigy, had the night before filled Boston’s stately Symphony Hall. His talent commands $1,000 an hour.
Bell, whom Interview magazine once said of his playing ‘does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live…’
So some of the obvious retorts are:
-- What was he doing in a busy bus station? People probably grouped him with other street musicians.
-- It was rush hour. People were on their way to work. Who has time to stop and listen?
…But some people did stop and listen, if only for a few minutes. They caught the magic. Art transcended the banal.

…What I wish for you this Christmas and Holiday Season is a childlike sense of wonder. I hope you can be entirely present in the moment.
…Merry Christmas!

…”What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.” W.H. Davies

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


...Iḿ in Mexico typing on the hotel keyboard staring at a gigantic flat screen TV where everything is connected--phone, computer, cable television, you name it.
This hotel is the fanciest place I have ever stayed in.

They have many pools here. Some of the rooms open up to pools so you can open up your patio door and dive in straight from there.
Not many people are reading books.
There are a lot of very bad tattoos. I mean, really bad. I have (Iḿ not using many contractions because this keyboard is giving them the Hispanic umlott you see in the word Iḿ) become a fan of tattoos, but these here are really awfully. It is as if every person here had one or more appendages dipped into a vat of ink and then it sort of whorled around on their skin.

I ran five miles this morning. At one juncture, I came to this cove with a sandbar surrounded on both sides by water, shallow water, and Iḿ pretty sure I saws an alligator lurking topside of the water surface, just waiting to have me for breakfast, so I turned around and sprinted the other direction.

The last few months of this year have been lazy ones for me. Relatively speaking, they have.
I have been taking it easy, not writing or reading much.
I have been doing a lot of thinking, though, contemplating why I write, what I want to achieve and why I want to achieve those things. Iḿ almost to the point where I have answers for myself, conclusions to the questions Iḿ asking.
When Iḿ all the way there, I will share them with you.
My goal is 1-1-12.

...I hope youŕe having a good week. It is strange to be in another country this time of year, to be hanging out in shorts and a t shirt while back home it is parka weather.
People are fond of saying how small the world is, especially now with technology being what it is, but really, the world is quite large.
I hope you are having a splendid week wherever you are in the world and I will write more Saturday.

Monday, December 19, 2011


--By year, average number of Christmas gifts people said they would buy:
2007 -- 23
2009 -- 18
2011 -- 15

--On Average, how many holiday cards do you usually receive?
0 to 10 -- 33%
11 to 25 -- 35%
26 to 50 -- 23 %
51 to 75 -- 6%
75+ -- 4%

--Have you ever re-gifted an item?
46% -- never
29% -- a few times
18% -- once
7% -- many times

…This was kind of interesting and surprising:

Psychologists at the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon say that their study demonstrates that anti-atheist prejudice stems from moral distrust, not dislike, of nonbelievers.
"It's pretty remarkable," said Azim Shariff, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and a co-author of the study, which appears in the current issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The study, conducted among 350 Americans adults and 420 Canadian college students, asked participants to decide if a fictional driver damaged a parked car and left the scene, then found a wallet and took the money, was the driver more likely to be a teacher, an atheist teacher, or a rapist teacher?
The participants, who were from religious and nonreligious backgrounds, most often chose the atheist teacher.

--Here are some disturbing findings:
The military divorce rate is at its highest level.
In 1999 30,000 military marriages ended

--Nearly 1 in 5 women report being raped in their lifetime.
30% report being first raped when they were between 11 and 17 years old
12% were 10 or younger
Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence other than rape at some point in their lives

…This is good to know:
The act of smiling alone makes you happier. The muscles in your mouth send a signal to your brain to produce a drug that makes you happier and helps you live longer.

…I like these to start a new week:

"If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than
because he was he, and I was I." Michel de Montaigne

"The idea is to write it so that people hear it & it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” Maya Angelou

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn
how to do it." Pablo Picasso

Sunday, December 18, 2011


...I have a new poem, "Lipstick" up at Word Riot and also here under "Words in Print."

...Last night I was at a party and I drank a lot and ate a lot (for me) and laughed quite a bit, too. It was fun. My time was spent 80/20. Eighty percent of the time I was with women, twenty percent of the time with men.
I got into political discussions but was mostly able to hold my tongue.
We talked about abortion.
I admit, at one point, I tuned out because I thought the other person was more or less inane.
I need to be less opinionated or not cling so tightly to those opinions I have.

...I am going to Mexico tomorrow. It will be interesting to look the sun in the eye, to say, "Where the hell have you been hiding yourself?"

...I wish I was the kind of person who didn't need to be liked. I wish I was stronger.

...There was a stretch of time this year where I wrote a massive amount of poetry. I am just realizing now that a lot of it was bad.
Much of it was nonsensical gibberish.
One of the worst feelings is reading an old piece of writing and not liking it.
One of the best feelings in the world is reading an old piece of writing and thinking, "This is not so bad."

...Here is something I wrote that was published in a print journal. My son said the first line when we were watching a movie. I wrote it down and then later on that night wrote the piece:

This One

You can learn a lot about a person from where they sit on the bus.
He always takes the same seat, middle row window and keeps his face flush to the glass the entire ride. When there isn’t too much sun I can find his reflection in the pane, his regretful eyes, sullen and swollen and so pulpy I want to suck them dry.
What makes it worse is his brooding cheekbones and rooster tail James Dean hair, so much like my ex it is heart-stopping.
Give me air, give me space. I need a man who knows better.
This one could be it. I’m not fishing, but sometimes fate finds you askance.
I saw him help a grandma with her shopping bag. Once he accepted a slice of gum from a cute blonde girl even though I could tell his breath was just fine. And then there’s the stance he takes as he stands, a familiar body yawn stretch, subtle enough to go unnoticed if you don’t look for it.
This one is beauty.
After he steps off I change positions. He has left the faux-leather warm for me. I squeeze my thighs and stare out the window and wave, watch him walk off, a queer, confounded twist on his face.
In a world of perpetual pity parties, a boy like that needs not a thing.
Tomorrow I will get off at his stop. The next day I will follow close behind. Another day and I will make a move. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s easily fooled.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


…I have a new poem, “Lipstick” up at Word Riot and here under “Words in Print.”

…This morning while running I listened to “Better Than This,” John Mellencamp’s latest album.
I like John a lot.
I used want to start smoking so I could have his gravelly voice.
I thought that would make me sound tough because I certainly don’t look very tough. If anything, I look the opposite.
I listened to John and ran hard until I was quite sweaty. I stopped a couple times to replay a certain song that is quite catchy.
Now my butt is sore from using too much incline on the treadmill. I suppose that’s a good thing--having a tender rear end because of exercise as opposed to something else.

…It’s almost Christmas. How are you doing? Are you ready? I am.

..Here’s my favorite ditty off the new album.

“It’s not my nature to be nostalgic at all.
I sat by the phone last night waiting for you to call.
It’s been decades since I spoke to you.
I just wanted to say I’ve been thinking about you.

Did you get my message I left the other afternoon?
Your young girl’s voice said, I’ll call you back real soon.
I bet that your daughter sounds exactly like you used to.
I just wanted to say I’ve been thinking about you.

So long ago, those summer afternoons.
I bet they tore that playground down where I first met you.

Don’t mean no trouble, don’t want to cause alarm.
Ain’t looking for nothing, just wondering about your song.
If you ain’t got time to return this call
I’ll understand that you’re busy and all.
Thanks for the memories when the world didn’t seem so small.
I just wanted to say I’ve been thinking about you.
About you.
About you.”

--John Mellencamp, “Thinking About You”

Thursday, December 15, 2011


…Last year I had three pieces published in a print anthology from 6S edited by the legendary Lydia Davis.
6S is short for Six Sentences, which means each story--in order to be considered for publication--can be no longer than six sentences.
Writing in a truncated format like that is a challenge I like. I've done 20 word stories, 12 word stories, pieces that were so-called "Twitter" fiction with no more than 124 characters…
Anyway, this one is about 9/11.
I think about 9/11 a lot. Sometimes it hits me at the oddest moments. "Timing" is about that…


Sometimes it happens this way, with him driving 1-90 to work, seeing a plane floating low over Union Bay, toggling between buildings and it’ll catch him unaware and he’ll remember stopping at Starbucks that September morning, the newscaster’s baritone tremulous and uncertain, him and everyone thinking hoax, thinking Orson Wells, and then later that night, thinking Armageddon and Satan.
Many days afterward there was a Robert Deniro documentary and he thought this could be a teaching moment for Hailey, his young daughter, with whom he had custody on weekends.
He made cocoa with mini marshmallows and once they became soupy Lilly pads Hailey plucked their white guts with her little girl fingers and drew letters across his cheeks.
On the television the buildings simmered and smoldered, sirens shrieked, people leapt and bodies thumped. They’d left none of the horror or death out, and while he knew he should have switched the channel, he couldn’t, riveted as he was.
When the program finished, his daughter turned to him with a yawn and asked if he could read her a story.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


…Yesterday I wrote a story while taking a bath.
It's a freaky piece called, "Pets."
The first line is, "Seated next to him, the girl keeps herself busy drawing pictures of dismembered pets--dogs, cats, rodents with collars."
I actually really like it.
What's even stranger is I wrote this in the tub longhand, dried off, typed it up, read it out loud, made some edits, submitted it to a site and got it accepted all in a three hour span.
Now that's freaky.
The story is at Airplane Reads and also here under "Words in Print."

…Also about yesterday--"Slut" came in the mail.

It's an anthology produced by Matt Potter of Pure Slush. I have a piece a piece in it called "Sex in the Time of Now" which is actually a parody of America's obsession with sex.
I would share the story here, but it's probably too long for a blog.
Here's the line Matt quoted: "He could no longer tell the difference between lust and love, sex or sweetness."

…It's nice to have words in print, on paper, in books, anthologies. But you have to wonder how many people ever see these small literary journals.
You have to wonder.

…I did an interview for Crack the Spine. They're going to be publishing a poem and a story. I tried to answer the questions different from all the other interviews. I tried to be honest.
One question was, "Why do you write?"
I hate that question.
And, No, I didn't reply, "Because I have to."

…Do you think I'll ever get a fucking agent? Do you think I'll ever get a story collection in print?
(Sorry-- I just had to get that out. Don't worry, I'm still fighting the good fight, going through the paces one must go through.)

…I've been obsessed with this Linkin Park song called, "Waiting for the End."
This morning, however, I listened to The Airborne Toxic Event's new album.
There's a song on it about Iraq with the lyric, "The kids are lined up on the wall and they're ready to die."
It's just a damn good album all around.

…Here are a couple things I like on Wednesdays:

“Laughter is the language of the soul.” Pablo Neruda

"You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be." – Chucky P.

"People say friends don't destroy one another, but what do they know about friends?" The Mountain Goats

"Come - I'll trace you one final autumn,
and you can trace your last homecoming
into the snow or the sun."
~ Annie Finch

Monday, December 12, 2011


…On the treadmill this morning I listened to “Live Through This,” by Hole.
You either hate Courtney Love or you love Ms. Love. I’m sort of on the “love” side.
I like that particular album anyway.
It has some great lyrics: “I am doll eyes
Doll mouth, doll legs.
I am doll arms, big veins, dog bait.
I want to be the girl with the most cake.
I love him so much it just turns to hate…”

…I went to a wine tasting last night with two other couples, so six of us, right? I spent the majority of the night huddled with the three wives (one being mine.) Why is it I always feel most comfortable talking to women? Why is it I feel out of place, as if I’m acting when I’m with men I don’t know very well?
Is it because I’m not mechanical? Because I don’t know anything about cars? Because I can’t fix anything? Because I have approximately 30 tools, six of which are screw drivers and five of which are hammers?

..I was thinking about how hard it is to be a great listener, about the amount concentration it takes to stay completely focused. It’s actually pretty hard to do for any extended period.
Try it.
Next time you’re with someone, shut up and let them speak and try not to let your mind wander, focus on what they’re saying and keep doing it and see how long you can last before you’ve unconsciously broken away into your own thought pattern.
“Listening is an Act of Love.” Dave Isay
Love, I think, is about being voraciously present.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Be Well

I am running to you
in the rain
a deluge of blue frozen stain,
a scratched-off signature or promissory note of the pain
I have caused you,
irrevocable, yes,
no different than trampled on trust,
a violation of every promise I ever made.

Overnight now,
I feel like a villain
because the truth is
I am.

But you,
you should lift your head high
toward the sun.
It loves you so much.
It has its arms encircling your waist,
its fingers in your hair.
It is breathing bright light
across your cheeks at this very moment.

Be well, my loveliest.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


…Is there a better song than Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah”? No, there really isn’t.

…I have a new poem, “I Can Be Your Sweat-stained Shirts” and two short pieces up at UCity Review. They're also here under “Words In Print.”

…Yesterday I actually accepted two stories for publication in Metazen. It’s been a long stretch where I’ve rejected about 30 pieces. But that’s about the average: one acceptance for every ten rejections.

…Yesterday, Dark Chaos, another online literary journal, called it quits. That usually seems to happen around this time of year. The pressure of normal life, the holidays and then editing a journal—well, I guess it all becomes a little much.

…Yesterday I stopped in the middle of things and I wrote a piece I really end up liking, written in that free form punctuation-devoid style I’ve been working with. It’s about a guy who falls in love with his wife’s sister at his wife’s sister’s wedding and then, years and years later, the man’s wife dies and the man finally has a chance to be with his dead wife’s sister and…

…Yesterday I had my 575th acceptance since May of 2009.

…Yesterday I ate too much so this morning I slept in.

…Yesterday I thought about you.

“It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we're talking about when we talk about love.” Raymond Carver

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


…How’s your week going?
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far?
If you can, you should go see “The Descendants” with George Clooney. It’s supposed to be fabulous.
Also, go see “Shame.” This film is a lot more raw, an indie film about sex addiction, but the best cinema of the year. Michael Fassbender should win an Oscar but the Academy hasn’t had any testicles since “Last Tango In Paris,” so he won’t and Adam Sandler will. Nevertheless, treat yourself to some fine acting.

…A moment ago there was a flock of fifty beautiful geese eating grass outside my window. Geese are prettiest in flight or bobbing on the surface of the lake. When they come to one’s yard, the aftermath they leave behind is not so pretty.
That’s why I had to get up and pound on the window until the scattered back into the water.

…The other day I read in the paper where a man who held a Kansas couple hostage while fleeing police is suing said couple, claiming they broke an oral contract made when he promised them money in exchange for hiding him.
"Jesse Dimmick is serving an 11-year sentence after bursting into Jared and Lindsay Rowley's Topeka home in 2009 and offering them money to help him hide from police. When he fell asleep, they stepped out and turned Dimmick in. Dimmick filed his lawsuit in response to a suit by the Rowleys seeking $75,000 for emotional distress…
Unbelievable on several fronts.

…Aside from smartphones and flat screens, one of the hottest items for 2011 on Black Friday was…
wait for it…
Yep, guns.
I don't know about you, but that's a little freaky to me.
There are a lot of unbalanced people out there that should not be toting a pistol in their purse or man purse.
Quite frankly, I'm not a fan of guns at all. Yeah, I know, I know--it's a Constitutional right.
But I'd like to amend that.
Maybe we could just hold the shooting range, and you check them out there for target practice, then check them back into the squinty-eyed guy when you leave.
It's a thought.

…The other day I saw the top 10 online searches for 2011. I thought there were some typical ones, but also a couple that caught me off guard like numbers 9 and 10.
Here they are:
10. Osama bin Laden
9. Japan earthquake
8. Jennifer Aniston
7. American Idol
6. Lindsay Lohan
5. Jennifer Lopez
4. Katy Perry
3. Kim Kardashian
2. Casey Anthony
1. iPhone

…Today I was on the phone with my financial advisor who shared that ten years ago there were 10 workers for every retired person.
Today it is one for one.
In 2025, in American, we will have 10 retirees for every working person.
So much for Social Security…

…I like this a lot:

"We’ve all seen beauty face to face, one time or other and said 'oh, my god, of course, so that’s what it’s all about, no wonder I was born and had all those secret weird feelings!'" Allen Ginsberg

Sunday, December 4, 2011


…It’s foggy out this morning. I can scarcely see the lake. The lake looks like a see through cloud with a bit of a belly.
I like the fog. It’s mysterious and soothing in a spooky sort of way.
It reminds me of George Washington crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Eve.
It reminds me of my favorite TV show when I was a kid, one called, “Dark Shadows” a soap opera well ahead it’s time about vampires and werewolves and witched, soon to be major motion picture starring Johnny Depp.
Fog reminds me of secrets and journeys.
I have some secrets. Don’t we all?
And in a couple of hours I will be going on a journey midway across the state. Perhaps I’ll tell you about it when I return. If not, I’ll keep it a secret.

...For now, here are some things to enjoy on a Sunday:

"In art, one idea is as good as another." Wilem de Kooning

"It makes me so sad to be happy." Spalding Gray

"A heart in love with beauty never grows old." Turkish Proverb

"To the weight of our affliction will be the weight of our reward." T.D. Jakes

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.” Frida Kahlo

"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own
way." Christopher Darlington Morley

"The idea is to write it so that people hear it & it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” Maya Angelou

"There is no great genius without some touch of madness" Lucius Annaeus Seneca

"It's better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you're not..." Kurt Cobain

"Slowly it dawned on me that they saw what I saw and that we are all alike and that I've had some investment in being special and now I have to face the fear and realization that I am basically like all the rest; a lost confused human being." Spalding Gray

"The only thing worth writing about is the conflict in the human heart." William Faulkner

Friday, December 2, 2011


…I live in the boonies.
Really, I do.
People here raise horses and goats and (for some reason) lamas. Some chuckleheads even have Confederate flags. (Seriously, they do.)
We still have telephone poles in these parts, too. Because of that, power outages are commonplace.
This morning, an hour ago, was the third outage in as many weeks. It’s funny how easily one can take things for granted. Even though the power was out and even though I knew it, I kept flicking light switches and at one point I even thought I’d make myself a cup of coffee.
It made me think that there's likely thousands of things in my life that I take for granted.
It made me feel arrogant and selfish.
Just a little bit, it did.

…On the treadmill before the blackout, I listened to Mona. They’re likeable rockers from Nashville and quite good. Check them out.

I wrote two poems and a story yesterday. The poem I liked least got accepted and the one I liked most got passed on.
When I clerked for a law firm in downtown Seattle I’d always see this homeless woman wrapped in plastic with a shopping cart. On really cold days she’d hover over the steam grate outside the old Nordstrom store. Then one day she was just gone and I never saw her again.
Whenever it gets really frigid out, as it has been of late, I think of her and all those like her who have no warm place to go.
Anyway, this is the poem that got passed over, the one she inspired:


The winds are laced with blades,
arctic air thick blankets,
bruised blue even at night,
but us,
well, we sit at a round table
in a warm building smelling of nutmeg lattes,
loud voices tearing dust off the rafters,
our laughter rattling newsprint
and backpacks.

Through the window outside
I catch a glimpse of a woman wearing a tattered blanket,
hunkered over the steaming heat grate,
her thighs splayed as if giving birth
sending her fetus straight to hell,
saving it from her hell.

Behind, a shopping cart holds
the woman’s house
her rooms
her ceiling
her carport
her bookshelves and bed.
Something like a lottery ticket
is taped to a cardboard sign saying
I AM The oNe
and then unreadable scribble.

As it starts to snow,
two suits and a pair of lovers pass by,
giving the woman wide berth,
winter air smoking from their nostrils
and teeth.
I watch the couple kiss.
I watch a hydraulic Santa pick up a package in the store front window.
I watch the ragged woman start to tell herself a story,
praying that she gives it a happy ending.