Friday, October 16, 2009

Interlude [i]

"I saw her today at the reception, a glass of wine in her hand. I knew she was gonna meet her connection, at her feet was a footloose man."--The Rolling Stones

She stood against the bar, running her finger on the brim of her glass, eyeing herself in the mirror behind the bottles. The dress was a black one, ending right above her knee so I could chase her calves down to the matching black shoes that almost disappeared against the black oak floorboards.

Her hair was loose, but in the sexy way only true brunettes can accomplish, framing her dark eyes and her pink lips and waiting until under her jaw line to start the inner march over the breasts. Her waist begged for me to wrap my hand around and pull her toward me, and I knew that I could do it, hell, had done it, long long ago. Memory flitted through my mind like dropped polaroids: her on the balcony looking back over her shoulder bathed in sunlight, her smoking a cigarette in the tub and the look of anguish when she dropped it, her crying as I pulled out of the driveway.

She was not there for me. Henry and Laura were finally taking the plunge, and they had invited the two of us before they knew that we weren't us anymore. She had gotten the letter, as she still lived at the house, and she had politely called me and told me that she didn't have to go. After all, they were my friends. Of course I insisted, because what else could I do? I could be the bastard and hurt her more than I already had, or I could be a man and fess up that everything I had done was wrong and that she was still important to me and that now that I had my own house and my own sheets and my own ashtrays I didn't sleep anymore and I smoked too much.

Instead I landed somewhere in between and told her she was invited too and that it would be foolish to refuse free food and drinks from friends.

I didn't realize she would bring a date. He seemed like a friendly guy, too much hair on top, like he was building a tower that smelled of Brylcreem. He smiled at me with lots of teeth when we met, crushing my hand when he shook it to mark his territory. "I'd like to punch you in the face just to show the little lady that I like her bunches," is what his beady eyes told me as he smiled and introduced himself. His name is Hank. I nearly laughed and sprayed white russian all over his fancy car-salesman tie. Hank. Like a cartoon character.

I had come alone.

I roamed the reception after the deed was done and while most folks were still choking down their dinners and before the dancing started. The bartender didn't seem to mind, I apparently tipped him well enough to actually give me a little alcohol now and again. Eventually I found the Bride and Groom yucking it up and I made a few of the appropriate jokes. She asked me how I was doing, and he told me he was sorry, he didn't know she would bring someone. Her eyes were sad for me, his the traditional "I'd feel for you if I hadn't just gotten married" look I'm sure everyone gets after time. I felt awkward, after all, it was their day, not my pity party, so I told them I was fine, that I didn't mind that someone great who's life I had crushed like an insect was here and the only thing stopping me from getting on my knees and begging for forgiveness was a giant lunkhead of fat Elvis proportions who thought bone-crushing handshakes were the epitome of success with the ladies. I told them I was fine and carried on.

The dancing started, and I roamed over to the bar, and I saw her. I saw her there, waiting for someone else, and I felt my heart ache the slow, hurting ache of the dead. Her man was tearing the carpet up with a nameless blonde from the Groom's side, and it did look like they were enjoying each others company.

As I watched, she bought another glass of wine and stared at it for a long time, still rubbing her finger on the brim, waiting for someone who wasn't me.

I held my breath, and went anyway.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Losing the Muse

Alright. I'm not gonna be happy unless I write something on this blasted thing, am I?

I haven't written anything here for a little while because, well, let's be honest. I don't know. Yesterday I started two separate articles and decided I couldn't back them--they were stupid and mean-spirited and after writing one for twenty minutes I decided I hated it and it was total bullshit anyway (it was about hipsters, and why I find them so fucking annoying [it's mainly the ones who are totally insincere that bother me, the ones who dress like hipsters but have no convictions about anything. We get it, man. You've taken the "I'm so cool, I don't care" thing and turned it into a style. The only thing you forgot was that your "not caring" just shows that you actually care the most, and just want to be accepted by anybody who doesn't have the balls to challenge you. Fail.]) and made me feel like I was treading water verbally, instead of just coming out and saying what I wanted.

That's my biggest problem with writing, and writing while in school. In my writing, I write to please me. Whatever works. If it's a sappy story about the nerd falling in love with the cheerleader and her shooting him down, but then realizing he's great, so be it. If it's a science fiction story about robots or a horror about rats in an attic or a fucking two pager about bed bugs, so fucking be it. I don't need anyone else to look at it to know I like it, because it's for me. Writing stories and poetry and all that jazz is selfish as hell. Yay for selfishness (sometimes), it gave us great works like East of Eden, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Great Gatsby. Stories like American Gods and Misery and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Those were written for the author and them alone. They weren't staying up late for deadlines and money, they were writing because they needed to get it on the page.

But with school, it's a whole different ball game. With school you write for another person. The whole fucking time. You can't just say "Book A is useless and boring and sucked six ways to Sunday," you have to say "Book A is considered to be one of the greatest books of all time. Joe Shmoe from Cocamo praised it winningly, stating, 'it is as lovely as the smell of my own farts on a windy summer's day (Shmoe 98)." Half the time what you really think of the book is lost in useless rhetoric that you have to use simply because if you are too direct, you might be plagerizing someone you don't even know about. In acedemia, there's no room for your opinion unless other people back it, so the only way to have any type of opinion is to have someone else's opinion. And then, even if your ideas are valid, your prof might fuck you just because they disagree. There's no way to tell.

So, I'm having a hard time writing. Could you tell?

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I bitch, therefore I am

There are things I don't do that I think everyone does, and there are things that I do that I don't think anyone does. I can't tell if that means I'm crazy or if it means that the world is going to shit. For example:

  • I don't understand why when there is a set of double doors and a crowd of people, why everyone squeezes through one door. What the hell? Open up the second door and then we can all leave at once and not cram single-file into/out of the building.

  • When standing at the deli counter with more than one person, and the clerk doesn't know who's next, no one speaks up. I've been on both sides of the counter for this, and I tell you it's never any less aggrevating (although when you're the clerk, you get to laugh about it later). Everyone stands there, too nervous to say "I'm next."

  • People don't say "thank you," but will apologize for everything arbitrarily, even when they aren't sorry at all. I think the worst is when people start sentences off with "I'm sorry, but..." because whatever is coming up you know it's going to be insulting. Nobody ever says "I'm sorry, but you've just won a million dollars" or "I'm sorry, but you just dropped this twenty on the ground" or "I'm sorry, but this super hot actress is going to have to give you a blowjob." Those are the kind of apologies I need. No more of this "I'm sorry, but after dating you I've decided to just go with girls now." I'm sorry, Sheila!

  • Why is it when people call you to ask you for something, they always start off with inane chit-chat with long pauses? "Hey how you doing, Brad? ...Yeah, it's been a long time....Yeah, remember that time at the mattress factory where we found Napoleans hairpiece? ....Oh that wasn't you? ...Oh. Well the reason I called was, well, can I borrow $6,000?"

  • Sometimes people call me and I can't talk. Maybe I'm urinating, maybe I'm in the middle of a purchase, maybe my hands are stuck together with glue. The part that pisses me off is I can call these people back twenty seconds later (true story), and they don't answer their phone. You just fucking called me! What could you possibly have done during the twenty seconds it took for me to finish peeing? It's not like you decided to call me twenty seconds before driving a flaming bus into a crowd of pedestrians and now you're too busy wiping blood and entrails off the windshield. In the time it took you to put the phone back into your pocket and cross the street, I've called you back. So unless you've gotten hit by a flaming bus, I expect you to answer.

  • How about when the same homeless guy hits you up for money two days in a row with two different stories? I felt like punching him in the face, but didn't because I'm weak and afraid, but Jesus Christ, man, I gave you ten fucking dollars yesterday! Now I just feel stupid and hate every homeless guy that begs for money. (actually, I did confront him on the third day, and the motherfucker denied he knew me. So I guess he's got his gig down pretty good.)

  • People who make lists of things they hate when they have a roof over their heads and a pretty good life, in general. Especially insipid college students who live on borrowed money and time, staving off the horrors of reality while looking down their nose at the people who have to work for a living. Those guys are fucking douchebags.

So yeah, that's it. I don't know why I chose today to be a dick to strangers remotely on a blog no one reads anyway (not even my family), but hey, what the hell.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Wreckless Musings [i]

I should be working on a paper, but instead I'm watching Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride, a movie about Hunter S. Thompson that apparently I watched before but don't recall watching at any point in time. My guess was the last time I watched this was after a night of drinking rum and cranberry juice, something I am prone to do when I have easy access to either. I tend to do things like drink enough to get drunk (not much) and then do something menial and mundane, and then forget whatever it was I was doing before. This is in contrast to others I know, who drink steadily all night and black out and wake up in a hotel room tied to a broken lamp surrounded by vomit and blood that isn't theirs. I guess the point is, if a camera crew followed some of my friends, you'd have something fun and perhaps entertaining, whereas the majority of the times I'm drunk and blacking out, I'm watching Fight Club and wishing I had Tyler Durden's balls. Not much fun in recording that.

New Brunswick is a strange place for me at this point in my life. I don't think I ever really expected to be here at twenty-seven, slogging through an English major I have little to no interest in at a school that is costing me $12,000 a year, trying to figure out what the fuck my "plan" is.

Plan. Ha. I don't think there is one rational person here who has a real plan, and if they do, they're probably damning themselves to a lifetime of aimlessness and horrifying boredom. I mean, how many people actually find a job out there that matches their major? Teaching? Sure, I guess that's a possibility. But you actually have to have passion for teaching, and half the "Future Teachers of America" out there are cold-blooded crazies with red eyes who actually hate children and just want a job doing something that's kind of lucrative and is always open. Teaching is like owning a funeral home: There's always business.

Then there are the scientists and mathematicians. These people have plans. But I'll never understand them because it's all fucking math. These are the people who think math is at the basis of all existence. Maybe they're right (actually, probably [actually, actually]), but fuck, man, who wants to live a life where you're surrounded by numbers? Why? What point is there to an existence where you are but a statistic, a number four hundred zeroes behind a decimal point? Maybe that's why people back creationism, as ludicrous as it is: Science is so fucking clinical and cold. Science is heartless and doesn't care if you die (if anything, it's interested in your death). Well, whatever, I don't want to get too far off point (which is what exactly?), but I just think math is stupid, because it's not something that keeps you on the feel-good side of life. And who wants to go to school and then surround themselves with that? Ugh.

So what's the plan for people like me? The lazy-minded crazies who don't want what the world wants for us, the ones who feel they can't be a statistic, the ones who fight tooth and nail the ignorances and weirdness of those who want us to have 9 to 5 jobs and wear suits and ties and punch a fucking clock?

I have no idea. I guess I'll just have to figure that one out later, cross that bridge when it rears it's ugly, mortared head. I guess I'll just have to buy the ticket, and take the ride, and see if I make it to the end.

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Magazines, Guerilla style

Maybe it's me, but I hate it when I buy bags of shit.

I hate it when I buy a magazine that purports to be a "writer's" magazine, or even more insulting, "The Writer's Magazine," and then they turn out to be full of shit. It's like buying an album because you heard the single and then you find out that the single was the only thing the band wrote while fully-functioning humans and the rest of the album is screaming and out-of-key blathering and noodling for nine minutes, usually ending with something like a cymbal crash or a twelve-minute cover of a great song you remember from high school that they systematically destroyed and ruined for everyone who even remotely liked the original.

I once bought a book by Michael Crichton called Prey. I remember that I had read Jurassic Park a million times and had read Lost World and then read The Sphere and had decided, "hey, this guy Crichton knows what he's doing. He spins a good yarn and though the plots are the usual cautions about misused technology, I think I can consider myself a fan." Then I read it, and it was probably the worst book I read by a popular writer except maybe Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (but that's another story). The plot is ridiculous, the "bad guys" are even more so, being obvious cookie-cutter bad guys with no redeeming qualities and the parts that I suppose were supposed to be thrilling were when rabbits were being killed. Yes, you read that correctly: Rabbits.

Anyway, buying magazines anymore (especially specific mags, like ones for Writing) has become more and more like biting into a rotten apple. Either the mag has no content (read: the same content every sixth issue) or it has no entries in the back (you know, where fledgling writers look to find ads for contests and submissions). Sometimes they're printed on high-gloss paper and have a writer you're remotely interested in, but then of course you realize they're asking stupid questions or they're printed on cheap-ass trade paper and endorse terrible writers you've never heard of.

So tonight I decided to go through all the magazines and make my own by taking copious notes from all the magazines and writing them in the margins of another, thereby gathering $30.00 of information for a measly $5.99. That's right. I mean, I arrived at the store late, so I had to rush through the mags a little faster than I wanted to, but I got all the web addresses to conferences, message boards, contests, mag submissions and retreats that I needed. I discovered Ellory Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Magazines, the mystery writers' mainstays of yesteryear have yet to land in the twenty-first century, having no e-mail submissions and even refusing e-mail queries. I've copied at least a dozen websites of writer's groups and even copied down a couple of writing prompts from other mags that looked promising. And then I went up to the counter and purchased one magazine for $5.99, leaving the rest of them back on the shelf.

So next time you see three magazines about music or writing or skateboarding or tranny erotica or whatever and they all only have 1/3 the info you want (or need), do what they taught you in school: take notes. Unless you want to just steal them. Either way.

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