Sunday, October 23, 2011

Baked Goods.

J.P. Henderhorff was old. But, more important than his being old, J.P. Henderhorff was comfortable. He was very comfortable. The old man had just settled into his large red recliner, the one that conformed so perfectly with his angular frame, that lovely chair, a gift from his grandchildren, a token of their love (though really an excuse not to visit him), when the fire alarm for his building went off. Rhythmic, grating shrieks, a howling banshee, a thin one, looking for crackers. But J.P. did not have any crackers. What an inconvenience, he thought. His breathing had finally slowed (sitting exhausted him), his back had sunken into the cushion, and he had just picked up the remote and aimed it at the television, his arm steadying to hit the blue button that would spring the black screen back to life. 

J.P. turned from what was almost the Golf Channel to identify the source of the noise. He finally noticed his apartment was opaque, that there were cloud shapes floating past the insides of his windows; and at first he thought the smoke was coming from the oven, that maybe his wife had forgotten a tray of sweets that was burning, until he remembered that his wife was dead, a fact he was constantly forgetting, one he oft caught himself in the middle of when shouted her name for her to come help him look for where he'd lost the remote control. 

(She had fallen down three flights of stairs, his wife, on her way up from grocery shopping, slipped on a slimy new egg that she dropped.)

J.P. let out an old man’s “Oh!”, the kind of sound flour makes when you pour milk into it, the sound something dry makes when it is both wet and dry simultaneously, and he rose from his chair, slowly, wincing in pain when both of his knees popped.

Pop. Pop. Pain. 

J.P. stared at the door in front of him. Smoke was sneaking through the gap at the bottom of the frame in billowy puffs. He thought about the stairs. All those God damn stairs he would walk down. Who says you can’t use an elevator in a fire, he thought. Who the hell says? And again the thought of the stairs exhausted him. There was no way an old man such as he would be able to walk eleven concrete flights, his knees popping painfully all the while.

Pop, pop, pop. He winced at the thought.

He bent forward slightly and leaned back, letting gravity take over. He fell backward into the chair and settled in, reassumed his comfortable position, closed his eyes. He breathed in deep through his nose and smiled. When the smoke started making him delirious, the smile grew wider: grew and grew in anticipation of the baked goods his wife would soon be waddling out him, her asking who was hungry while the platter smoked between her mittens protecting her thin and bony fingers.

Double A surname.

I had a dream about Anne Sexton last night. There's a name for you. Anne. Anne Sexton. We're supposed to be reading her poems for my Intro to Lit class. I opened the assignment late last night after I got home from work (thank goodness community colleges are so accommodating to the stay at home thirty-somethings) smelling like oysters, and fell asleep staring at the small black and white photo crested into the right hand corner of her biography. She was beautiful, I remember thinking, before I drifted off to sleep. So beautiful, Anne Sexton. So beautiful. 

In the dream I was working on an assembly line. Rushing past me, too fast for my hands to keep up, were hundreds and thousands of bananas. I know it's suggestive and freudian, but it couldn't be helped. Things were underway. The fast bananas are evidence of that. Anyway, the dream . . . 

The conveyor belt broke down while I was reaching for those speeding peels. Just started smoking and sputtering and then whistles were blowing everywhere and the boss -- a giant gorilla, I know, innate, right? -- sent everybody home for the day. It was gray outside in my dream. The clouds growled like an empty stomach and I knew soon the world would be wet as a seal's nose. I found my car and got in. I started to drive home, even though I didn't even know where home was in this town, picked a direction and turned on my blinker. After all, this wasn't my usual job. It started raining. I was driving and it was pouring and then there, walking in the thick of it, briskly, in a heavy green overcoat with her shoulders hunched forward, was Anne. Anne Sexton. I slowed down and pulled my car over closer to the sidewalk. I rolled my window down. 

"Anne," I shouted. "Anne Sexton!" She looked over. She raised her eyebrows. And you know how dreams are. She was in the car. Then we were in a trailer somewhere, which was strange, because I've never even been in a trailer, but somehow my brain knew just what to make one look like. The trailer was dark, dimly lit, with brown shag carpeting and awful looking green curtains -- the ones with those ratty looking tail things at the end of them? -- and I was brewing some tea and Anne, Anne Sexton, was sitting in a large recliner, a green plush one she kept sinking into in her green overcoat, which I had forgotten to take off and hang up for her. I kept trying to think of something to say. 

"Sorry about, you know, the mess," I said, gesturing to the tiny trailer. "But I don't even live here. You understand."

"Yes," she said, trying to make herself comfortable, pushing herself up by using the chairs oddly large arms for leverage. She grunted. "I know how it is." 

"Say," I said. "We're reading some of your poetry right now in a class I'm in." She turned her head sideways and looked at me, those shimmering silver eyes. It felt like someone had placed a coal on the back of my neck. That's how intense it was when this lady looked at you. She was something, that Anne Sexton.  

"Well," she pronounced, slowly, "What do you think?" 

I blushed. "I - didn't read them yet," I said. "I fell asleep looking at your picture."

She didn't smile. But, it was something with her eyes. She was smiling. They were smiling, actually. Her eyes. She was looking away from me, past me, through something, through the words I had just spoken, watching as they sunk through the air behind me on their way to the floor. She followed them. When they reached the carpet and sunk in like an old stain she nodded and said, "I could never love a man who's read my poetry." 

"Excuse me?" 

"I could never love him. He would know me. I think a man should think a woman is a mystery. A man should never understand a woman. A man should be able to make a woman fall apart in his hands like dry snow." 

The water I was heating for the tea began to boil. I took a step toward her. She was staring at me now. The burning feeling had moved lower, only the actual burning subsided. It was a low warmth now, spreading, too, along my thighs, trickling into my feet which felt lighter, suddenly, lighter than ever. I felt like dancing. I had never danced before. Or played the trumpet. But I knew I could then, if I wanted to. I heard it somewhere far off. Trumpets. A sea of them. A cacophony. But there was beauty in its discourse. I was going to dance with her to it.

I extended my hand. "Anne," I said. "Anne Sexton. Would you like to dance with me?"

She reached out and grabbed hold of me and it was only then, when I saw the contrast of her skin on mine, did I notice she hadn't colorized. She was still in black and white. She tightened her grip around my hand. "I don't want to dance," she said. She bit her lip. "Come here." She pulled me down to her with strength and ease. The ease I had expected. The strength I had not. She slunk into the folds of the recliner and disappeared. She pulled me down until my face was resting against the back cushion in a way that was quite uncomfortable. Even in a dream it didn't feel right. When I tried to pull away her legs shot out of the folds she had just disappeared into and wrapped around me, pulled me in close. "Take me," her voice whispered from somewhere behind cushions. She slid her feet along my back and they made their way up my shirt.

"Oh!" I yelled. "Anne! Your feet! Your feet are freezing!"

"Ignore that!" she said. "Take me! Take me now!"

"Maybe we should go to the bed!" I said, pushing away from her so I wouldn't be suffocated. "I think that would be more comfortable!" I looked around the trailer but couldn't seem to find any bed. It looked like there was only the kitchen to my left and the room we were in. There also didn't appear to be any doors in or out. 

"There's no time," she said. "Come into me!" She started pulling harder with her legs and soon I was buckling forward, folding inward, being sucked into that space between the recliner.

"No!" I said, struggling to free myself. "No!" I crumpled and heard a crunching sound and was falling, landed on a newspaper, was crumpled into a giant ball before I woke up with the sheets tangled around me, screaming into my pillow. 

I tried to tell me professor about what happened. About why I hadn't been able to do the reading. 

"You said the same thing about Plath and Dickinson," he said. "Why should I excuse you this time?" 

"This time was different," I said.

"How?" he said. "How in God's name is this time any different?" 

"Because this time when I woke up my sheets were dry."

My professor nodded, scribbled something into his notebook. I smiled and left the room. Though I wouldn't have smiled if I knew he was giving me an F. What a bastard.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weather Patterns.

Really, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. People were being blamed for it, because blaming people felt better than having no one to blame at all, but, if you had to blame anyone or any one thing, it should have been the location; but even then it’s hard to place blame. How can you pinpoint a phenomenon?

Her mother placed both parts equal blame. She blamed her daughter for marrying a fulminologist and she blamed her son-in-law for moving her daughter to Florida.

The Son-in-law also blamed the daughter, his wife, for being so God damned stubborn, but he also blamed himself for trying to convince her that it could wait until morning, that they could use cell phones as alarms, that no one needed to get out of bed right this minute to run downstairs to trip the breaker. 

Right before she fell she blamed her husband wholly, though, she might have reconsidered and blamed herself for trying to prove a point, but, after her neck broke, there wasn't any going back on that kind of decision making. 

Her father blamed the carpet company for not pulling the carpet tight enough so that the fall might have been avoided. 

The carpet guy blamed his drug dealer for running out of the regular stuff he smoked and so he had to pay extra for the stonger stuff that made him lose his concentration. 

What’s really amazing about all of this is that during the course of the blaming no one thought to blame the storm that brought the lightning that knocked out the power that angered the wife that stirred the argument between her and the husband that compelled her to get out of bed and march down the stairs and fall to her death because after all -- who can predict a phenomenon?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hard Skin

The first one she collected came to her; fell into her lap after the man sitting next to her on the subway clipped it off with no regard for where it would land or how far it would go. She looked down at its simple complexity, at its crescent moon shape, at the specks of dirt and dust on its underside and thought to herself: This is the piece of a person. Not wanting to attract attention, she placed her hand over the fingernail that had taken residence in the dip of her dress and waited until the man rose from his seat and shuffled out the double doors. When it was clear she placed the fingernail in her purse where it would remain until she arrived home, where she would place it in a jar and label it with the day's date. This curiosity became an obsession, and after only five months, her apartment was crammed full of jars full of fingernails.

It was on a Friday in November when she learned about the meetings, her co-worker, two cubicles over, a fellow collector, saw her picking a hangnail off the carpet with a pair of tweezers and decided to invite her. "I want to show you something," he said, gesturing for her to follow him to his workspace. He opened a desk drawer, and inside were dozens of eyelashes, pressed between thin sheets of glass, as if he were preparing to view them under a microscope. "They're only ones people have blown away and made wishes on," he said, beaming with pride. "How can you tell?" she asked. He made a face at her that suggested confusion. "It's a very delicate process," he said. "You know that." She didn't, but she nodded regardless and said, "Oh, yes, of course."

At the collector's meetings that met once a month, people pulled out delicate containers and viewing cases, each with only single things inside of them. Her co-worker passed around an eyelash labeled "despair," and explained to everyone that the person who blew on it had wished that their loved one would wake up from a coma. People murmured in approval of his exposition. One man passed around a jar that was empty, but, when she held it it felt like it was full of angry bees. It was labeled "faggot," and he explained to everyone that he collected hateful slurs, and that this one was caught at a baseball game with his gay son.

Several other jars and containers were passed around, and, when it came for her, she pulled out her largest jar of fingernails which was simply labeled "fingernails" and attempted to hand it to the woman sitting next to her. But she didn't move. No one said anything. When she asked if she should pass it around the other way, again no one spoke until the silence became unbearable and someone piped up and said, "No, I think we get the idea." The woman to her right pulled out an empty jar and unscrewed the lid, held it near her face for several seconds, scooping it through the air like she was trying to catch a firefly, before placing the jar in her lap and sealing the lid shut. She taped a label onto it, scribbled the word "embarassment" down and began passing it around the room.

She, the woman with the fingernails, moved to leave. As she made her way out, someone bobbed the jar up and down in their hand. Before the door closed behind her she heard them say to the person sitting next to them: "This is just awful. I'd hate to be whoever this came from."

The Subjectivity of Taste

She was smiling in front of a structure that looked like it was stacked with hard candy, lime greens and lemon yellows, strawberry reds and orange melons, all laid out with concise precision on top of one another, and the bright colors illicited something in him, made his mouth water, made him thirsty for something, though he couldn't tell what, if it was the architecture or the girl, who stood there with her toes pointed inward laughing about something, some secret that he desperately wanted to know, but couldn't, but never would, because it was only a picture, because he didn't really know her, because he never really knew her at all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Apprehend Eventuality:

Barreled over myself, in an attempt to stay warm, I am
Complimented on my glasses by a young woman and 
I ask myself:

Who is Robert Kunzig?
Who has had too much to drink tonight?

We are exactly what happens by accident, you know. I can’t
Catch you, or let you know anything about anything at all.

One day we will abandon our children to write poetry.
They will have more character without a mother.
Adolescence is only sociology, and childhood is overrated.

You wouldn’t have been a good role model, anyway.

You are not trying to look stylish, you think. You are 
Just trying to see.

Who’s writing this garbage anyway? Whose idea was it
To have a shift in perspective in the middle of a stanza?

I can’t believe I’m responsible for this. He’s a very sad young man.
It’s unhealthy to live the way he does. I’m alone in all of this, I say
In the dark.

It’s sad, you think.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Argument

When you ended things I needed to rationalize things. I looked up and tried to reconcile. I needed things to make sense, and so I craned my neck towards the sky. The sky was blue. This was my anchor. This was my constant. I am alone now. And the sky is blue. It's over, and the sky is blue. This is the end and the sky is blue.

But this cannot be the end. Thus, the sky cannot be blue.

Because the sky changes colors it is not a single shade so much as it is an occurrence.

Because to the south of me exists molten rock and eventually the surface of the continent of Asia, and because to the east and west of me are horizon, the sky isn't so much a color as it is a direction, and just like Heisenberg says: precise inequalities that constrain certain pairs of physical properties, such as measuring the present position while determining future momentum; both cannot be simultaneously done to arbitrarily high precision. How can the sky be blue if it is also above me?

It is subjective. To a colorblind person the sky is actually a sea-foam green, or a sad, dull gray.

The sky is no more blue than it is black at night, a sheet punctured by the stars, a thin sheen that reminds us that in the grand scheme of things, nothing will remember who we are.

The sky is not blue because colors are not inherently dangerous, and the sky is not a color but a womb, a place where tornadoes and lighting are born, there, in that cold apple skin of atmosphere.

The sky has been a god, in the past, an ambiguous deity, and so, according to the Christian doctrine, the sky is not a color so much as it is an abomination.

The sky is not blue but instead the sky is chromatics, physics, electromagnetic radiation; more than anything the sky is really just light, which is not color but energy.

The color blue is really just a measurement of wavelengths and therefore not the sky but a series of numbers. 470, 638, 2.13, 2.64, 254. I could associate these numbers with the number of times I've thought about you since I began to de-rationalize the existence of the sky as a set function of everyone's everyday everything. Why should they get the sky if I get nothing?

The sky is only a unit of infinitesimal particles, not a color but a collection of layers, an atmosphere.

The sky, as far as I'm concerned, is not blue, but an opinion.

The sky is upside down. Cognitive perception flips the images we see right side up, and so if the sky is really inverted than we are underwater, at the bottom of the ocean, and so who can say what color the sky really is, if none of us have been there? And, if this is the case, and we are really underneath the surface, then, just I suspected, I can't breathe, and I am drowning. I am drowning. We all are.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hello lovely, hello lovely, hello, was how he referred to them, all of the women, which were many, because he was consistently confused and madly in love with every woman in the world, always. He often felt like Irwin Shaw and Woody Allen only in the absence of eloquence or good humor, and though he was clever, he was not intelligent, and it was easy for women to see through his intentions, or at least what they thought were his intentions, because his love for them was genuine, just not focal.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My first day as a substitute I went to the wrong school. I remember my hands slipping off of my steering wheel as I turned into the parking lot next to the tall brick building. I slunk in through the side door because I was late to my first class, scouring the empty halls for the classroom that matched the numbers on the napkin I had used to write down my instructions. I remember my footsteps sounding like gunshots with all of the bodies in the classrooms, nothing to absorb the sound of my heel bouncing off the tile floor. Just black, metal lockers. When I finally found the room I thought I was looking for I walked through and loudly announced that I was sorry I was late, and found myself in the middle of a woodshop class. An older gentlemen, a Ghallager look alike at the front of the room, pulled his safety goggles off and balanced them atop his bald head. Can I help you? he asked. And I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket — in contrast with the spinning saw — and knew it was the administration of P.S. 111 wondering where I was.

I missed first period and made in time for the last half of second. In the desk I found the regular teachers instructions. My students are to take a test today. No talking. If they do, don’t hesitate to take the test away. I have preemptively written John Henderson of my fifth period class a referral for disrespect. He will earn it without fail. Just a forewarning. When the third period class filed in I handed them the tests and wrote the answers to the test on the chalkboard. I said, No talking, and watched. The class suspiciously copied down what I had written, even though most of my answers were wrong, and some of the smarter kids knew that, but it didn’t stop me from collecting their sheets and filing them into the teacher’s manila folder.

When the last test was handed in I opened my briefcase and pulled out a VHS of the 1930′s “King Kong” and then told everyone to take notes. One of the kids in the back said, smartly, Shouldn’t you be teaching us something? I wrote him a referral and laid it on his desk. I didn’t get this job to teach, I said. I’m just here to watch movies. I took a seat behind the teacher’s desk and did just that. I watched.

Friday, June 3, 2011


My little Argonauts, she called them, her two sons, though they had no idea what it meant, nor she, as her pregnancy with Thomas (her eldest) had occurred when she was only sixteen, resulting in her dropping out of high school, the importance of learning definitions of peculiar words waning each day with the growth of her belly, and so she was forced to misuse them instead.

There they go, she said, my little Argonauts, as they ran out the door to go play. She watched them digging at the end of the front yard from the kitchen window of their trailer, in that low dancing heat that made her boys shimmer in the background like mirages, while she washed plastic dishes clean of the boy’s macaroni and cheese lunch; one red, one green. Mulling the term over  in her head, she decided that it meant to be some kind of explorer, perhaps one who travels explicitly on foot, one who purposely avoids the sea or the air, a fitting term for her two sons who were grounded by the poverty that they were, for now, blissfully unaware of. They had only an idea of the absence of things, like possessions, or a father.

She pictured her boys as two such travelers, explorers of the world all around them, and she allowed for herself, briefly, the romantic notion that their home, that grounded and thinned out metal tube, was really a vessel missing one small part, one key component. She imagined that their tenancy in the trailer park was only temporary, that at any moment a large bearded man with black fingers would come in through the front door wiping his hands off on an old spotted rag and say, It’s all fixed up, ma’am, and she would call in her two sons, and they would soon be halfway across the world, the view outside their windows, blurs of colors and sounds, everything once keeping them fastened to the earth disappearing behind them.

However, Jess, now twenty-four years old, was coming to an understanding that fantasies such as these  did more harm than they did good. She was better off keeping her head level with the window, her feet planted firmly to the ground, recognizing the horizon for what it was, a dangerous drop off at the edge of the world.

It was at this moment of consideration that Brian, her youngest, began to squeal, a screech that first sounded like one of pain, but, as Jess snapped out of her languidness and back into a state of motherly awareness, she saw her two boys running toward her with an eagerness that suggested having never experienced disappointment, the sincerity of children, both of them shouting, Treasure, mom! Treasure!

Thomas, his feet pounding  furiously against the pavement with his fist held out in front of him had a look of seriousness on his face that his mother would eventually come to hate. First when he would tell her that he wanted to meet his father; again when he would inform her that he had gone and joined the army; and again, the worst time, when he would wake her up at four in the morning and ask her to have a seat in the kitchen, where he would explain to her very slowly that Brian had been killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, where he would say that he was gone forever, that he was never coming back, that it was just the two of them now, that she was that much closer to being entirely alone, that nothing would fill the hole he had just created.

But before these moments would unfurl there was now, this moment of optimism, this bizarre feeling of hope fluttering alive inside of her like a white dove, as Thomas burst in through the front door of the trailer and ran to where she stood, dirt trailing in behind him, while Brian, coming in after his older brother out of breath, began dancing and spinning, his arms flailing up and down while he yelled, Treasure, mom! Treasure! In his high pitched warble, while Thomas stood still in front of her panting, red faced and sweating, staring wide-eyed and hopeful at his closed fist with such an intensity that one would think he was able to see through his fingers to the treasure he enclosed there.

Jess, her heart still racing, the hair on her arms and neck raised like it was listening, knelt down to the same height as her son and placed her hands around his own and prayed, Let it be something. Let it be one of hundreds of gold coins, or the tooth of some prehistoric creature, or the tip of the mast of some long forgotten ship, the beginning of an ark; an answer to their prayers, anything at all.

Show mommy what you found, she whispered. Show mommy what’s in your hands.

Thomas finally broke his gaze and looked up at his mother with his girlish brown eyes -- his lashes so long for a boys -- and he nodded in understanding about this secret that they were about to share, the two of them, while in the background Brian giggled with sparrowish delight and sang, Show her, Tommy! Show her! And Thomas released what he held and in that instant his hands opened in his mother’s she understood that whatever it was that he found held little to no value at all, she felt what little weight there was between the dirt he dropped in her palms, something small and insignificant, and with the disappointment already showing on her face she opened her hands and saw the dull, brown coin there, a farthing, old British copper worth only a fraction of a penny, one of the few things she remembered from her history class sophomore year, pictures of old British currency in the margins of her textbook, and with this knowledge floating around hopelessly inside of her, Jess began to cry, and then the only noise in the kitchen was the sound of three people breathing and a small distinct ‘pink’ on the plastic tile floor of the kitchen, and Brian quieted, and Thomas finally spoke, and he said, What is it, mom? And with the back of her hand Jess wiped her cheeks and gave the coin back to her son and said, It’s nothing, Thomas. It’s nothing at all. And she rose, to walk past them, to her bedroom, full of vagueness, full of nothing, toward what felt like, for her, inevitability.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Cactus

"But metafiction isn't even cool anymore," says my friend, rolling a cigarette. "That shit hasn't been cool since Vonnegut died in '06." he licks the paper and twists it into a tight bundle before he presses it between his lips. He lights it.

"He died in 2007," I say. "And he wasn't the only one who did it. I gave you that Kundera book." My friend inhales and looks at me. "Fuck that guy," he says, and spits near my shoe.

"How am I supposed to write about the word mint without making it self-referential?" I ask. "If I talk about people in a bar it's cliche. If some guy roofies some girl it's cliche. If some girl roofies some guy it doesn't make sense. The only things left are mojitos and mint chocolate chip ice cream."

My friend scratches his face and then runs his hand through his hair --the one not holding the cigarette-- to create a kind of static lift. He does this whenever he is thinking.

"Ok," he says. "How about this: the story could be about a guy. This guy's name is - is - is fucking Dave, or whatever, right?"

I nod.

"Ok," he continues. "Dave is gay, right? But he's married and has a kid, so, he decides that, one day, he can't take it anymore. He gets really drunk. On mojitos. He makes himself like seven mojitos in his nice backyard in his nice house on a nice street in a nice neighborhood in a nice part of town and then leaves to pick his daughter up from school. He makes a mojito for the road.

I nod again.

"So --swerving through traffic and shit-- he picks up his daughter and drives her to an ice cream shop where he buys her two scoops of mint chocolate chip and tells her that he has to go away for a long time, that he might never come back. And the whole time he's telling her this he's chewing up mints like fucking crazy. Yea, mints, because his breath smells so bad, like alcohol, just handfuls and handfuls of mints into his mouth, crumbs of them dripping down his chin.

"He leaves. He gets into his car, this mint colored Cadillac from the fifties, and then he leaves her in the ice cream shop. Just fucking leaves her there. This girl is in fucking kindergarten, right? And then he drives to Mexico. They live in San Diego or some shit and have a house made out of coral.

"He drives and doesn't stop. He can't stop. If he stops, something will catch up with him. He can't explain it, he just knows he has to keep driving, eighty, ninety, a hundred miles an hour, to escape this feeling. He makes it through border patrol, and keeps driving.

"He gets lost. He has no idea where he is. He pulls over at a bar. He ends up getting wasted because he feels so guilty, he just wants whatever it was that he was running from to catch up with him, and so he's waiting. Just waiting. There's all of these locals at the bar. Some of them speak English and they invite him over to come sit with them. They drink. They order mojitos and mint chocolate chip ice cream and tequila and they're laughing and drinking and eating ice cream and clinking glasses and spilling alcohol all over their dry, dirty fingers while the ice cream crusts against the corners of their mouths, and then someone drugs Dave. He passes out. They strip him naked. They drive him to the middle of the desert and leave him there to die.

"In the dim light of the moon, Dave wakes up and wanders through the desert past the tall rows of cactus that line the earth. They glow a soft mint color in the night. Pretty soon the cactus start looking like people. Reminders of the abandoned. He runs his hand over them, carefully. The spines of the cactus brush against his fingers. He thinks about how fitting this is. Like, how, even when he touched his wife, his daughter, his family, his lover, this affair he had with this other man, it's like they were never really his -- like he was never really touching them at all, like he had never touched anyone in his entire life. He hears a coyote in the distance. This is what he's been waiting for, you know? This is what's been trying to catch up with him. Not the actual coyote, but, the sound, an omen. Like he's arrived at himself. And so he walks, naked, through the desert, towards oblivion. And like, that could be the end. That could be it, you know? Why don't you write about that? Why don't you make that your story?"

I look at my friend and don't say anything. I wear my disapproval on my face. I shake my head "no."

He spits on the ground again and stamps out his cigarette, which he has finished smoking in the time it took to tell the story. "Fine," he says. "Fuck it. Don't write about it. Write about some other fucking people putting drugs into their drinks so they can fuck each other like awful, dying animals. Here's a story for you. I tried quitting smoking once. Chewed on mint toothpicks until my gums bled. Why don't you write about that? Why don't you write about that dumb shit instead?"

I shake my head. I do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


She was so tall I wanted it to be illegal. I hated her for it, and I wanted them to take her away. I wanted to see blue and red lights reflecting off pale skin as they tilted her into the back of the police cruiser, hands cuffed behind her, face somber, eyes still. Too tall to sit up, she would curl into a ball and lie sideways on the backseat where, I imagine, she would cry quietly onto the cushions, more out of embarrassment than anything else. But I would miss her. I would miss her if they took her away like that. I wanted her close. I Wanted to protect her from other men. From the officers who held her arms back. From men who were better suited for her. Healthy men. Men with five o' clock shadows. Men who wore basketball jerseys. Men with better taste. Men who could identity blackcurrant fruit in expensive bottles of Pinot. Men with rhythm. Men with deep laughs. Men with bigger penises. Men who had large, white teeth and argyle socks. Other men. Men who were, more or less, just like me.

I pictured us together, dressed, a cocktail party anticipating, her already towering above me and asking would it be all right if she wore high-heels. My response would be to stand on a phone book so that I could kiss her on the lips, and I would say, The taller the better, my dear, and I would brush her hair out of her eyes and call her My Little Skyscraper, which is an oxymoron, which she loves. She was so tall. She was so tall I wanted to climb to the top of a thick tree and shake its branches; shake its branches and yell crude, obscene things at her so she would look around and see me and say, What a curious boy. Or, What a strange boy, or, What an interesting boy. Any of those things, so long as she was looking.

I tried to picture us; a well-adjusted couple. A couple who held hands, conversations. Who had a dog. A short-haired dog who shed too much. My great, big, redwood of a woman would brush the hair off of her jeans and say, Where does it all come from? and then she would throw her head back and laugh. A laugh so big and tall it would break up the clouds. We would take the dog out to eat with us, the three of us, outside, and people would try to pet the dog, some would try to scratch it behind the ears. And they would always looks at you and ask about the dog. Always you. Always.

But I cannot picture us as this kind of couple. Something tragic needs to happen. The dog has cancer. No, she has cancer. No, we all have cancer, the three of us, all of us, shedding and shrinking and sickly. We met at a cancer support group and fell in love. We adopted a sick dog because we knew that we could nurture it back to health with all of the extra love we had to give, which was so much. We had all kinds of cancer: brain and skin and lung and finger, but we fought on, the three of us, eating scrambled eggs and Denver omelets and extra bacon that we fed to the dog under the table. It was the three of us, eating while our diseases ate away at us from the inside out, and it was ironic, and dichotomic, and contradictory, and an oxymoron, which she laughs at; which she loves.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Art Feet

I was growing my hair out. On my face and on my head. It made everything itchy. I knew I couldn't stay this disheveled because I needed to work, needed a job, needed to finish my resume, but, in the mean time, I was growing my hair out. I'll clean up when I get the job, I thought, if I get the job.

Halfway through the resume I realized I didn't know what I was doing. I drove out to my mom's house, though, technically, a trailer, where she was sitting out back rolling a joint. I sat next to her on plastic lawn furniture and we passed it back and forth while I asked her questions. "What exactly do I need to put down?" I said. "What exactly are they looking for?"

"You're asking the wrong person," she said. "Ask your father."

I thought about my father, living in Dallas, driving his Corvette with his new wife, her hitting the ignore button on his I-phone when she saw that I was the one calling. I decided to ask someone else.

But there was no one else, and so I found myself driving through town high as fuck in my small, beat up car that shook like it was laughing whenever I tried to stop too fast. $1,200 to fix it, the mechanic had said. I'll get it fixed when I get the new job, I thought, if I get the new job, but only if they don't drug test. I'll quit smoking pot if I get the new job. Where was I?

I was at my ex-girlfriend's house. Her dad would help me with the resume. He still liked me. I got out of my car and rang the doorbell, saw him trotting in from the living through the front window. "Nate?" He said, when he opened the door. "Mr. O'Hara," I said. "I need help. With a resume." He looked behind him to the living room, where, against the wall, two sliding glass doors opened up to the back deck. Valerie, my ex, was sunning on the patio with her new boyfriend. I could almost hear Mr. O’Hara’s brain turning. "I just need look at one,” I said. “Only for a second." This was the same man who taught me how to set a table; taught me how to tie a tie; taught me how to drive a stick shift. This was all before his daughter. This was before I through a brick through her widow. "All right," he said. "Come in quick, to my office. But don't let my wife see you."

I barely remember the office. I remember being overly aware of my hair growing out. I remember feeling hot and crowded, that Goddamned itchy feeling spreading from my face to all over my body. I remembered that my mom sometimes laced her pot. I remember Valerie's dad asking me if I was OK while he pulled up the Word doc., and I remember sweating and saying, No, no I'm not OK, and then pulling off my shirt and running down the stairs. I remember him chasing after me. I remember Mrs. O'Hara in the kitchen screaming, the sound of something breaking. Glass, I think. I remember taking off my pants, my underwear, being naked in their dining room and feeling that fire all over my body. I remember seeing the pool and running for it, hearing Valerie scream "Jesus Christ!" while her boyfriend pushed himself up from the deck chair and shouted "What the fuck?" at me, right before I dove into the pool. I remember opening my eyes from the deep end and then looking up, looking up at that turbulent blue reflection of the world outside, at everything all around me. And then, underwater, when I decided that I couldn't stand it any longer, I opened my mouth and screamed all of the air out that I could, like an undomesticated, wild animal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Word, edited.

The year that I turned eight years old – the same year that my mother left, that same year my father’s second biography received unfavorable criticism in the New York Times Book Review (“Stratton's latest excursion into the minds of Russia's greatest novelists reads much like the countries current economic climate: dismal, bleak, and saturated in vodka," they said), resulting in the loss of his job as the writer in residence at Columbia University, leading to our having to relocate to Aurora, Illinois (which, more than likely, coincided with my mother’s decision to leave, her being so embarrassed of having to move out of the city she could no longer stand the sight of my father), that year, that same year – was the year my father started doing what I hadn't known was possible. Drink more. And, not to be wrapped in melodrama, but it was also the same year he started to beat me. Trashed, he would stumble through the house slurring my name until he found me and, when successful, ask me problematic questions about the origins of Russian literature. At eight years old, of course, I never knew the answers, and so he would pummel me.

Once, after a particular beating had landed me in the hospital (Poor kid's so clumsy he fell down the stairs, he told the nurses, true only to the extent that he had pushed me),  on the drive home, as an act of unspeakable kindness, my father asked if there was something he could do to make amends.

“I want a pet dog,” I said, and my father said nothing, only nodded.

That night he got drunk again, but, instead of hitting me, he went into the yard with a shovel and a bucket. He came stumbling in some forty minutes later, dropped the bucket onto the floor of my bedroom and said, “Here. Your pet.” I peered inside and saw, not staring, because it had no eyes, but tilting its head up at me, a small, gray mole.

“Thanks, dad,” I said, not wanting to be slapped, or kicked, or punched. “What should we name it?”

“His name is Dostoevsky,” he said. “And he’s blind, just like justice. He’s going to teach you about the futility of utilitarianism.” And with that, he hobbled drunkenly back into the hall. I looked back down into the bucket and stared at my new friend, who was wiggling his nose at me. I leaned in close to it and whispered: “It’s a good thing that you’re blind, Dostoevsky, because things have gotten kind of bad around here since mom left.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Quatrain

So much bacon
all of my immigrant children
they need bacon to grow
I must nourish them

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Sarah, much like the apes, had come a long way. At least, she thinks that's what Kubrick was trying to say. She wasn’t quite sure. She might never be sure, she thought, but, having just taken two hits of acid, supposed that now was a good a time as ever to figure it out. The original assumption was that we're still not much better than the first versions of ourselves. But she decided she could be wrong. She usually was about these kinds of things. She continued to sit cross-legged on the ground, waiting for the drugs to kick in, determined to come to some kind of conclusion.

On the cold wooden floor of her living room next to her cat she listened to the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack on her mother's old record player and envisioned each scene from the movie using only the orchestra’s cues. She was in the middle of emptying out her apartment when she found the acid (preparing herself to move in with her half-sister one city over, a city very close, essentially, while at the same time being worlds away from the house where she now stayed, here, in a college town, where to exist in a state of perpetual adolescence was absolutely acceptable) in a Ziploc bag and decided to take it. Two strips. They had to be at least a year old, she remembered, having purchased them at a music festival where she camped out for five days, but it was one of those places where being uninhibited allowed for you to do other people's drugs for free, and so she was able to save them. Her mouth filled with the taste of pine. She had used the bag for not just acid, but nuggets of pot as well.

Sarah closed her eyes and began to count backwards from random numbers. Forty-seven. Sixty-two. She closed her eyes and listened. Music. An Orchestra. This was the scene where the monkey's first discovered how to use tools. An epiphany, she thought. A revelation.

Sarah opened her eyes. Tall heaps of trash were piled all around her. Coffee pots without machines to steam the grounds, lamp shades without lamps, broken ironing boards and boxes full of books she'd read only once and hated. Clothes without hangers, hangers with no clothes, notebooks and papers and essays and notes, all of it having defined her in someway at some point in time. Wait a minute, she thinks. This was the scene where the monkeys first saw the slab. It loomed high above them, much like her garbage did now. It sounded like locusts were coming. It frightened her. Her breath became shallow and spastic. She tried taking deep breaths through her nose to calm down, but it only reminded her that the house smelled like a forest fire.

Two weeks ago, Sarah almost burnt down her house. A kitchen fire. After throwing a handful of pasta into a pot of boiling water, she went to to smoke a joint while she waited. Feeling lightheaded, she decided to lie down, and when she woke up, she woke up to the mouth of a fireman's wrapped around her own, pushing hot air into her, inflating her, like a balloon animal or a blow-up sex doll.

The firemen and the police asked her questions. She told them she inhaled too much smoke trying to put out the fire. She wandered into her bedroom and fainted. No one seemed to believe her. But No one could prove otherwise. Was this where they first launched into space?

Coming in to rescue her, the firemen had punched a hole through the front window to get in through the front door. She imagines they must have looked like astronauts in their suits, wading slowly through what for them must have felt like a dangerous new planet. On the window there was now a murky, plastic sheet. Sarah hated it. What scene was this? What am I even listening to? Sarah wondered. Was the music speeding up or slowing down? Was the acid kicking in? Taking it was a good idea, she decided. She started to feel sick.

She hadn't replaced her stove because she was leaving, and so subsequently couldn't cook anything. She had sustained herself by eating through everything in the fridge – including a jar of minced garlic – but the only thing left now was a bag of Krab Delight and a shriveled red pepper. The Krab Delight was making her nauseous and the pepper was no longer safe to eat. There was no money to buy food because there wasn’t a job. There was no job because there was no desire to work. There was no desire to work because there was no desire to do anything with the degree that was just earned. Sarah didn't want to be a sociologist; she wanted to be a sculptor. But she couldn’t afford any clay, and she couldn’t afford any food, and she was running out of things to sell, with one week left to go before she moved in with her sister. Maybe she could sell the cat, she thought. She didn’t like him all that much anyway.

Three months ago Sarah rescued the cat from being stuck up a tree. It had remained ungrateful. Initially she kept the cat because it hobbled, its rear left leg much larger than the others, a trait she found endearing, but now she had no idea why she kept the cat. The cat did not like her. He scratched her when she tried to pet it and hissed at her when she walked by. The only time the cat was non-threatening was when it was eating, and there was nothing left to feed the cat but Krab Delight, which was making him sick. She’d fed him Krab Delight all week and now his hair was falling out. The cat might have fared better in the tree, she thought. It tried to run away when she first brought it home -- still did, even -- but Sarah felt that because she’d invested so much time in the cat she should keep it, and so she trapped it inside by screening in the bottom half of the front door. She was determined to have the cat show her gratitude.

The cat lifted his large leg to lick himself, tufts of fur coming loose on his tongue, his mouth smacking open and closed. Sarah became concerned when the cat's leg shrunk back to a normal size. Seeming to notice Sarah's watching him, the cat squinted his eyes and hissed at her, an echo that vibrated somewhere within her. The cat made to his feet and galloped on his uneven legs towards the front door, but was thrown backwards when he bounced headfirst into the screen. He hobbled through the living room, shedding as he went, a testament to his slowly dying. He disappeared behind a pile of garbage. The record spun but made no sound. Silence. The scene where HAL wouldn’t open the bay doors. Maybe taking the acid wasn't such a good idea after all, Sarah thought.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

And then . . .

I recently went back to Saint Augustine to see my good friend Leah before she moved to New York. “I’m glad I’m leaving,” she said to me as we lay in her bed drinking warm Rolling Rock. “I’m sick of all of these fucking guys who walk around with no shoes and then don’t call me back after I open myself up to them. It’s the same thing every time. They just fall off the face of the earth.”

It was true that the small beach town was home to hundreds of adolescent males who wandered around barefoot contemplating all the ways they could make themselves more appealing. They cut their jeans up past their knee, wore shirts without sleeves, and didn’t shower. To the girls attending Flagler College, they were irresistible. To me they looked and smelt like stray dogs.

Driving to Leah’s house, I passed my old community college and thought about my last semester there before moving to Gainesville. For whatever reason, Dustin, a fellow student from my writing class came to mind. In a conversation we had had, he explained to me that he moved from Pennsylvania because he nearly beat a man to death with a dildo. “We called it the fissure,” he said. “It was so massive. Any woman who used it would have split herself in half.”

Before moving to Saint Augustine, Dustin had a job in a sex shop selling X-rated videos, costumes and sex-toys; dildos among them. The story goes that, one day, coming out of the back room after eating the sack lunch his fiancĂ© made for him (everyday, before he went to peddle erotica), he saw his manager backed against the wall behind the front counter with his hands up. A man wearing a hoodie was pointing a gun at him with one hand, stuffing bills from the cash register into his pocket with the other. According to Dustin, to this day he still has no idea what happened. He doesn’t even remember doing it. One minute he watching the holdup, the next minute his manager was pulling him off of the man whom he had been beating senselessly with a giant, rubber dick. 

“I think they had to life flight the guy,” he said.
The point I think Dustin was trying to make is this: People find themselves in new places all the time because sometimes things just happen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

As a young man,

I am prone to certain oddities. Take just a minute ago for instance. I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my living room in my underwear. I was hopping up and down and wiping the peanut butter off on my Hanes. Now they're stained. What is wrong with me?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family Reunion

I woke up this morning to find my father in the kitchen, rummaging through the freezer for ice cubes while the tap ran in the sink. I was confused because my father had been dead for eighteen years.

"Dad?" I asked, cautiously making my way into the kitchen. Setting his hands on his hips he turned to stare at the counter next to the stove. He wore a white tank top smeared with oil and grass stains, small khaki shorts sitting high above the knee. His skin glistened between flecks of dirt and grass, and the thick dark hair on his arms and legs lay matted from the humidity outside. He continued to perspire, even as he stood in front of the freezer.

"Who did the lawn last?" he asked, taking off his glasses and pulling his shirt up to wipe the sweat off his forehead. 

"Mom took over," I said. "After you died. And then when I turned eleven I started doing it."

"Oh," he said, sliding his glasses back onto his face and looking up, out past the window, beyond any sort of specificity.  "Because whoever did it last did a terrible job. I just did it. The right way."

"Well I moved out. So I think Mom does it now."

"Your mother," he said, smiling, shaking his head as he tilted down to look at his feet. He had yet to look at me.

"I think I'm still asleep," I said.

"Oh?" My father asked, leaning against the counter.

"Yes," I said, nodding. "I remember this kitchen. This awful crawling wallpaper. Blue vines. I live somewhere else now."

"I see. Well, I made you a baked potato," he said, making a gesture to an empty table.

"I'm not hungry," I said, moving to leave the kitchen. "I have to go anyway. I'm going to be late for work."

"But you have to make time to eat. You're a growing boy."

"I'm an adult, dad. I finished growing."

"I missed that, didn't I?"

"Yea. But you couldn't help it. It was an accident."

My father nodded, his eyes glistening but fixed. Without another word he turned back to the freezer, and I remembered how easy it was to find yourself alone; how difficult it was to live that way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lately, things have been . . .

"So, that's it then? I'm adopted?"
"Yes, Mark. But that's doesn't change
how your mother and I feel about

"I eat crepes and play with tape.
I can't be that hard to get along with." 

Rule #1: If you're going to get stuck on an elevator,
keep good company.
Rule #2: Be sure and press all the buttons. 

"What are you wearing right now Janice?"
"A powder blue power suit."
"Oh, Janice. I think I'm going to have
to end this phone call."   
I don't know who Sarah is, but she's a lucky girl. 

I'm still not entirely sure how I haven't
been fired yet.

I'll write about what this all means later. I'm just too tired right now. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Water Song.

Never one to be known for impersonations, Daryll realized that in order to convince Trisha from accounting to go out on a date with him, he would need to pretend to be somebody else. It could be anybody, really, so long as it wasn't himself, and it would only need be for a handful of hours. At least until she'd said yes to their date; at least until he had tricked her into bed with him.

He decided to use a commanding personality. Someone strong and domineering, with a staggering gait and a smile so thin it could just as easily be a scowl. He thought for thirteen minutes before deciding on The Searchers John Wayne.

Unfortunately for Daryll, Trisha hated westerns. She hated deserts and she hated sand, she hated Arizona and she hated New Mexico. The sight of large, red rocks in old films made her uneasy, and the idea of riding horses to chase Indians made her visibly upset. Once, she even went so far as to poison a small cactus someone kept in their cubicle.

Almost seemingly unrelated: Trisha was a talented ventriloquist.

When Daryll finally worked up the nerve to ask Trisha out, he did so in a studly, cowboyesque drawl. Panicking, wide-eyed, not knowing what to do, Trisha grabbed a cup of water on her desk and began drinking from it furiously. With her hand, she made a mouth. Fluttering it open and closed, never once moving her lips, she sang to him: "No, no, no, no, no, no, no."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

 Yesterday at work I sat and listened to a carpet cleaner talk about his aunt's annual income. "12 million dollars a year," he said. "She lets me take out her fishing charter. I have a trust fund." I looked down at my black work shoes covered in scuff marks. The laces on the left are frayed and about to tear off. I thought about how even when I don't have money to buy food I can somehow still validate the purchase of a book.

Later, after the evening had taken a series of interesting turns, I wound up in the small apartment of a local musician who played me some songs he was working on. Everything in the apartment was visible from where I sat on the couch. His deck was littered with old VHS tapes: Man on the Moon and Fievel Goes West stuck out for some reason. The coffee table was littered with empty beer bottles, two full ashtrays and empty packs of American Spirits. There was a bag of expensive looking weed, two glass pipes and an earmarked copy of A Streetcar Named Desire. I played one of his guitars with a broken string and the music he played was the most moving I've heard in a long time. When I asked to use the bathroom I heard water running. "Is someone taking a shower?" I asked. "Oh, no," he said. "The shower just doesn't turn off. It always runs." 

While we talked he smoked a joint and I couldn't help but wonder if I looked out of place, still dressed in my work clothes, bright and ironed, sinking into his soft brown couch covered in laundry and recording equipment, drinking the beer he offered me. Whether or not I did, I never felt unwelcome. 

What a wonderful place, I thought. 

Afterward, I wound up at a pool hall where a drunk girl yelled at me, "Hey, do you like Asian girls?" I told her that I mostly just liked people in general. A man with no front teeth put his arm around her and said, "Wrong answer, Buck-O."

The bartender and I tried to find the most nonsexual ways to reference pool, but, no matter how you look at it, pool has only disgusting terminology.

Eventually we went to dinner at a restaurant where we met a rude vet. She started complaining about a bad date she had. As chance would have it, the guy who took her out was sitting at the table right behind us. My friend asked her what his name was and then loudly called him over.

I asked her if she would ever want to work on elephants and she said, "Ew. No. Dogs are the only animals I like." 

I think she is going to be a terrible veterinarian. 

My friend came late to the restaurant having been at a play earlier in the evening. We ran into an actress and a stage director from the show who took down my phone number and invited us out to karaoke. I never made it to that bar, but if I had, I would have sung "Fly Me To The Moon." They called again later and invited me to a party. When I turned to say goodbye to the group I was with, there was a polar bear running toward me. It was only a man in a suit, though.

The girls didn't know anybody at the party. It was 1920's themed. In my work clothes, I blended seamlessly in with the other guests. I met a girl who was eating a banana and when I asked her about it (bananas are an odd party food) she said it was the best cure for hiccups. I asked her if she brought the banana as an anticipatory act. "Do you always keep fruit on you for worst case scenarios?" She laughed and asked how I knew Sarah. "Who's Sarah?" I said. The girl gave me a look and said "It's her birthday?" I then met a girl with bright red hair and we traded French for Sign Language. She also asked me how I knew Sarah. "Who's Sarah?" I said, and she laughed because she thought I was kidding.

I got drunk. On the way home I remember the girls asking me questions I shouldn't have given them answers to. I don't think I ever met Sarah, but she throws a great party. 

This morning I went out for my usual Sunday breakfast at The Flying Biscuit. My waitress was a woman named Taroola. When she brought out my omelette she set down a bottle of Mexican hot sauce and said: "Would you like some Cholurah from Taroola?" and then she laughed. I loved it. 

The world is the strangest place I've ever been. I'm really beginning to enjoy myself.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

First date

Her mouth pulled, pursed, into a conflicted slant. Sideways. She was biting into her bottom lip. A smile, a frown, I couldn't tell which. It said, You're very sweet. But I could never, ever love you. That, or she was a lesbian.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ringing. Every sound I have ever heard, ever. Shuffle, slam, open, alarm, ding-, Hello? Backing out, a high mechanical squealing. Front door lock, sticks, click, crunch. The sliding glass door is stuck but you get the idea. I don’t like the bathroom, I don’t like the space, why is it so old, why is everything so wrong, why aren’t you listening, why is this like this? Sorry, please consider us. Ring, Hello? Can you help me? I need an apartment. Hello do you have any apartments? Hi. Ya’ll have a place to live? Hello? Yes, in the vents, there’s mold. There’s mold in the vent. Hi I need you to fix this, hello, I have a request, yes, yes, yes, can you fix this? I need you to fix this, you have to fix this. And then this morning at 6:30 you wanted and then again at nine and now, stop, don’t wake me up, stop, I need to sleep, I need you to stop. Why did you come here at all? Why did you come here? Why, and then to me, elsewhere: Where were you last night, hey you never showed up, Oh, yea, sorry something happened, and then, and, and, and hey, where did you go, hey come over we’re all going to smoke and, hey, do you play music, hey do you know that song, hey come here, hey, come lay in bed with me, hey thank you for the drink, hey
 Will you drive me to my car? 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dear Subtlety,

Where are you?


- Ian 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Existential Board Games.

Today in my acting class we played a game called "Bang." And no, it's not as fun as it sounds. In "Bang," a single person stands in the middle of a circle of people and, using their "gun finger", spins around in search of a target. When found, the shooter (remember, it's only a hand gun. Literally, a gun made out of a hand) says "Bang" and fires imaginary bullets. Imaginary bullets, as it turns out, are very slow. The intended target actually has the ability to duck said imaginary bullets. We could all probably duck imaginary bullets -- if we were so inclined. You would think this was the end of the round, but don't worry, it's not. A democratic process follows the discharge of the "fire" arm. A vote is undertaken to see if the duck was fast enough for the imaginary bullets.

Regardless of the vote, this is not an effective method of execution, unless the quarry forgets to duck the bullets, which is often, as the game itself is very boring.

If it's decided the mark didn't duck in time, then they are killed, and have to move to the center of the circle  to assume the role of executioner: a vengeful ghost with an imaginary gun and very slow (but not too slow) imaginary bullets.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"New Astronomy"

My hands are the solar system,
Because thumbs are not planets
And Pluto is not a finger.

When you were the sun,
Everything was always
On fire.

When you left,
Botany stopped
Being interesting,
And Narwhals
Finally understood
What it's like
To have cold weather.

But probably,
That was before they went extinct.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hello World,

I am jacked on green tea and chocolate chip cookies.

Friday, January 28, 2011

B film.

“Hippy Dippy” was how the substitute acting teacher kept referring to the morning’s exercise. Hippy Dippy. Hippy. Dippy. “Excuse me,” she had said, hands on her hips, dramatic flare ready to be exercised at any given moment. I needed to be careful. I didn’t want to send this woman into a flamboyant tirade. Or would it be a tirade of flamboyance? Either way, I was dealing with an adjunct professional.
Looking directly at me, she asked, “Why aren’t you participating?” Because you’re a substitute acting teacher, is what I had wanted to say. What I said instead was this: This is a really nice sweater. I don’t want to get it dirty. Now would be a good a time as ever to mention that the morning’s activity was to sit Indian style on the floor, grab your feet with both of your hands and then roll around on the ground (ridiculously) for an unspecified period of time.
            I spent the rest of the class period sitting at my desk wondering what the fuck Dippy meant.
Much to my humbled surprise, I discovered that dippy was, in fact, a real word.
            –Adjective, -pi·er, -pi·est. Slang.
Somewhat mad or foolish: dippy with love.

It was my assumption (and remember, when assumptions are made, so are asses) that dippy had a close relation to the word dickory. I was shocked and amazed when I discovered that dickory was not a real word. Dickory’s second closest relative was “Dicty,” a word that describes someone’s behavior as high class or snobbish. I’m writing this in a closet right now. It doesn’t get much more un-dicty than that. 

Lamentations of an Unintelligible English Major . . .

            And by you, I mean me. I’m not trying to walk a tightrope act here by means of daring second person narrative. I just want to vent. Why didn’t anybody tell me English was going to be so hard? The revelation that I am, in fact, an idiot, was difficult to come to terms with. Do you have any idea what it feels like to have to relearn a language you’re already supposed to know? Do you have any idea how many grammatical errors I’ve already made on this page? Because I sure don’t, and I doubt you do either. Or maybe you do, actually, and I really am just that dumb. How in God’s name have I been articulating? How on earth am I going to survive the pedagogic environment? Do I even know how to use pedagogic in a sentence? And my ultimate goal is to teach?
            Ultimately, the decision came to me because I wanted to dedicate my life to meaning, to purpose. I had accepted the fact that my fragile emotions would be shattered mercilessly in corporate America, that my kindness would make me a target of the ruthlessness that thrives in the Advertising world (Where the focal point of my studies had previously resigned). I thought it would be great fun to make commercials, sitting in a room full of barcaloungers in a semi circle, while we talked about the best way to sell Coors Lite.
            “I think it would be best served cold, guys. Whaddya say?” 
            “Great! Let’s expand on that. But first, let’s discuss the semiotics of this Victoria’s Secret commercial, and how we can cross-promote Lubriderm, Kleenex, and Viagra.”

Ah yes, the holy trinity.

            But that wasn’t the case. And little did I know, there would be even less encouragement in the Literary world. An example of this would be my writing professor’s praise of a short fiction piece I wrote, to which he said: “Well, I didn’t totally hate it.” When I tried explaining to him that I had purposefully injected a meta-fictional nuance into the story – he laughed at me. “Oh, that’s rich,” he said, chuckling to himself. He then proceeded to write my statement down onto his hand, presumably so that he could recite the hilarity later to his friends, verbatim. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I switched my major. I switched because I wanted to ask all the big questions.
What is honor?
            What is love?
            What is the meaning life?
Advertising asks all of these questions, too; their problem is just that they have all the wrong answers.

            Q. What is Honor?
            A. Armor All.            

Q. What is Love?
            A. Snickers.

            Q. What is the meaning of Life?
            A. To have lots and lots of things.

            I recently read an article in GQ that said Coke-a-Cola actually owns the rights to happiness. Excuse me for dropping my pseudo-articulate guise here for a moment, but – what the fuck does that even mean? I learned very quickly that advertising was actually a PR term. I was in the market of Corporate Racism.

            Black people will buy anything if you embroider it with gold.
We need to face the facts, class. The Hispanic community doesn’t eat peanut butter.
White people will buy anything if you put it in a funny commercial. 
Jackie Chan can sell anything to the Asian market.
            Tide understands that lower class families can’t afford to keep their colors from fading, that’s why they don’t market to them!

Everyday I would sink lower and lower into my seat as these advertising mantras bored their way into my skull. They haunted me. Pretty soon I became depressed. I hated what I was turning into. I could have done something about it; I knew every available medication on the market used to treat depression because we had studied their commercials and even wrote a paper titled “If I Was Depressed, I would take . . .” But that only succeeded in making me feel worse. I couldn’t even see a newborn baby without thinking: Yes, but can I make you a Gerber baby?
So, I switched tracks, assuming I would be met with open arms by the study of the greater good. What I found instead was an austere rigidity. This is English, you fool, it seemed to say. And just because you’ve read all seven Harry Potter books doesn’t mean you can just dance your way in here. No, my friend, you must earn your keep! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to masturbate over a thesaurus . . .
I’ve been trying to write my statement of transference.

             I wrote this instead.