My First Adult Writing Contest (The Post Where I Write My First Flash Fiction Story)

Well, I never gave much thought to this flash fiction business. Thought it was so much window dressing. Thought it was a bunch of malarky. I would have thought the same thing about all poetry if my English teachers hadn’t told me it was meaningful. And then poetry hit me like a smack in the face last year. And it was good. So, I read some of the winners of this contest and they were good. So now I will try to write a story in under 250 words and win the contest! I’ll save this as a draft in case there’s a rule about publishing your story beforehand.

I’m pretty sure I won’t win the contest at all, having never written a story like this before, but I was pretty sure no one would like my blog, so fuck it.

Addendum: here’s the prompt and the quote for the contest:

EVENING-QUARRY-ACCENT-ROSE-TEAR-MINUTE-GRAVE-CLOSE-ENTRANCE-BOW

I want to put a ding in the universe. –Steve Jobs

Oh by the way I found the idea for this on WetInkPress. So you have to write a story under 250 words and use at least four of the prompt words and you can either try to use the quote as inspiration or not, if you do and you are the best at it, you get an additional award.

Ok I think it’s two guys talking, one guy thinks he can change the world, the other doesn’t, then the first guy leaves and feels like he’s already changed the world.

Here goes then.

Tides of evening wash over the graveyard in a sudden flurry. The men spoke with strong Irish accents.

“Mom would be proud of us wouldn’t she.” He tossed it over his shoulder like so much dirt. Not a question, jus

Pause. Outside they are digging themselves out of the snow, so this works well. Me and GF are like fuck it, we ain’t going out in that shit! I don’t know why people are in a hurry to get out. We hibernatin in this bitch.

Anyway

Rolling tides of evening washed over the austere graves in a vengeful fury.

The two men spoke in Irish accents.

“Mom would be sah proud, wouldn’t she.” He tossed it over his shoulder like so much dirt.

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. “Aye, don’t you think so?”

“I should be glad to never learn one way or another.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

“Our world is as beautiful as hers,” he said, handing the flower to Dennis.

Dennis glared at his brother and threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “Our world is shite.”

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

“Exactly that. One day closer to death. One more step into the grave.”

“So we act meaninglessly?”

“Of course we do!”

“Do we not celebrate our mother with every minute we spend here, digging, in a kind of prayer like way, don’t you think?”

“Ah.”

“And by celebrating her, throughout our lives, don’t we make the world a better place? Don’t we then change the goddamn world?”

“Shut up and keep digging you fool.”

Patrick smiled, sccoped the rose carefully into his shovel, and replaced it upon the pile.

Ok, obviously lost the thread there at the end. But that was about 310 words, so only sixty to cut. Now to make the language more poetic, and more dark, and more graveyardy. Nothing like what I had in mind, but fuck it, I guess that’s what flash fiction is all about. It’s some kind of flash of a scene that makes an impression in your mind. But it’s still supposed to have a middle and an end, according to the writer interviews I read about people who have won last year’s contest. The middle is supposed to be the ending, and the end is supposed to be basically giving you some time to wind down from the hock of the middle/end, instead of being a punchline at the end like an O Henry story or something.

Rolling tides of evening washed over the austere graves in a vengeful fury.

Hmm. I like the idea of a tide of evening. Probably read that somewhere else.

The rolling tides of blackish violet announced the evening

The rolling tides of black clouds ferried the evening in among the austere graves. Two men dug shoulder to shoulder near a humble stone.

In his strong Irish accent, Dennis muttered, “She deserved so much better.”

In the beginning I was thinking he was a gravedigger and he was saying sarcastically his mother would be proud that the Irish brothers had gone to America and could only find work as gravediggers. But now I think she should have died without enough money for a funeral and they are burrying her. Maybe she had big dreams and never got to do them. Maybe she died in America after making the voyage to follow her dreams.

In the accent of the old world they had just left, Ireland, Dennis gritted his teeth. “She’d be sah proud of us making the journey.” He tossed the words over his shoulder like so much dirt.

I like the idea of tossing words over his shoulder, but then old Patrick better not be shoulder to shoulder, because then why is his brother tossing words over his shoulder at him.

Ok they are digging graves back to back. Ha! They can’t be back to back tossing dirt over there shoulder into each other’s hole! That’d be a story in itself.

Ok they are face to face.

“I guess she found what she went looking for.” Dennis tossed the words over his shoulder like so much dirt. Nope got to go!

“I guess she found what she went looking for.”

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. “Aye, don’t you think so?”

Dennis glared. “Should’ve been buried in Ireland at least.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

“She found a new world, to her it was more beautiful, probably because she’d never been there, and having died as soon as she saw it, she hadn’t the time to be proved wrong, and so she probably died happy.” Patrick handed the flower to Dennis.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “This world is shite.”

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

I was thinking of the dwarves from Lord of the Rings when I said, “And further we delve…” but then I put dust, because ashes to ashes and dust to dust, from dust we came and to dust we go. But of course Patrick shouldn’t say anything about dust, that would be Dennis’ line.

“Exactly that. One day closer to death. One more step into the grave.”

Of course here I was thinking of the song “Time” by Pink Floyd,

You run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again!

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath, one day closer to death!

But exactly here is where the image kind of fell to pieces, and I overstated his line and then of course Patrick would never ask this question:

“So we act meaninglessly?”

“Of course we do!”

And then with this next line I was trying to find out what the whole point that Patrick is trying to make:

“Do we not celebrate our mother with every minute we spend here, digging, in a kind of prayer like way, don’t you think?”

“Ah.”

“And by celebrating her, throughout our lives, don’t we make the world a better place? Don’t we then change the goddamn world?”

“Shut up and keep digging you fool.”

Patrick smiled, sccoped the rose carefully into his shovel, and replaced it upon the pile.

I was thinking this would make a good ending image, differently worded of course.

Patrick scooped the rose from the grave and placed it carefully at the foot of his mother’s…stone…headstone…rock…the humble stone…the crumbling humble bumble of a tumbling stone.

Ok if this story is to work I’m going to have to let go of trying to keep with the “ding in the universe” theme. At least so closely. It’s a good image, and it can work if I let it, at least marginally, though it may not be a contest winner. This is, after all, my first contest.

And that’s a line that Hunter Thompson used frequently: “We are, after all, professionals.”

Round three:

The rolling tides of black cloud ferried the evening in among the austere graves. Two men dug near in front of a humble stone.

Dennis muttered, his Irish accent harshening the long ‘o’: “She deserved so much better.”

Why am I fixated on this long o shit? Maybe I’d better use a different word from the prompt. Or maybe: “Two men dug close to a humble stone” Or near the entrance, there cowered a humble stone, and two men dug gravely. Hahahah gravely. Dug with seriousness. Dug in earnest. Dug in painful earnesty. Dug integrally. Dug it like it was Dizzy Galespie in the wild blue night and the mad ones running hurdy gurdy down a street of internal pain and wondering…all of us suffering, all longing, and Dean’s long last old man wandering the streets nearby, somewhere in the mist beyond reckoning.

Or maybe, There cowered a humble stone, and two men bowed low to the hard earth, digging stolidly, digging stoicly. digging. There cowered a humble stone, and along it two men bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving, to wind up here. And us, her only kin, her only friends, the only ones who care enough to bury her.” This is of course too drawn out, but he would say something like that. He would grit his teeth and hurl the dirt, heft the dirt, bring the dirt out of his very soul, which he has been keeping there all her life, only to dig it out now at her grave, digging into his own soul and finding nothing there but dust, all is dust, all is fleeting. What a bitch.

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. This is good, glinting may be the wrong word, but cool moonlight on bared teeth is both bright and creepy. Patrick’s a creepy mother fucker to be laughing in the moonlight. Which of the two is right? Well, that’s in the eyes of the reader. Life does not present us with judgments. Like Jet Li says in Fearless, basically my favorite movie of all time (maybe after Crocodile Dundee), “Does the tea judge itself? No, we judge the tea.” Or something like that. So what then does Patrick say here, if Dennis life can be…or rather Dennis’s thoughts can be summed up with all is dust…what does Patrick mean to say. “But she does not die in vain, for she has us, and we are who we are because she lived, and because she loved, and we live because she lived, and we love because she loved, and here in the night, working together to celebrate her life and honor her with the sweat of our brows and the strain of our backs, we prove to the world that she was here, that she made some difference in the world.” Ah what a cop out, dear Patrick. Just by getting knocked up someone makes a difference. “No, anyone can stick a hanger up there or fall down the stairs, but no one who raises two boys against the threat of silence and death, against the hungers and terrors of this world, has lived in vain.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

Well he’d have to be stealing this rose from another pile, because roses don’t just grow in graveyards. So what does it signify if he is taking a rose that someone else has gathered, and giving it to his own mother. Well, it could be very political. Robin Hood and the merry men. As this is a very austere graveyard, and his mother’s grave cowers among the other stones, because they are so much bigger and richer, he is taking from the rich, like their view of welfare or some such. They pay the taxes and he takes it. Yes but I don’t know if I want to make that point. Like Kurt Vonnegut said, or something like it, when this country was born you’d better have taken way too much, or you’d get nothing at all.

And why is he giving his brother a rose. He is taking a part of his mother’s soul, say, if they brought the flowers there to lay at her grave, then he is taking a part of his mother and giving it to his brother, how is it he can bestow this blessing? I suppose it is because he took from her her caring nature, her optimistic view on the world, or perhaps is currently blessed…I mean possessed by her spirit and therefore is acting in her stead towards his troubled brother.

Patrick held the rose delicately and proferred it to his brother. “Like this rose, she is now dead, but her beauty lingers with us.” Hm that sounds good, but lingers has a bad connotation I should think.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “This world is shite.” I think I can just take out “this world is shite” since Patrick has refrained from saying anything about the world now and they don’t have to be talking in Irish accents. But slowly opening is good, not for the wording but for the image, it’s like a mouth that opens to swallow them, not a new image, but a strong one nevertheless.

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Here of course I was thinking of the song “Weak and Powerless” by A Perfect Circle. And the graveyard isn’t really a horrible place of death. But to Dennis it is. Should the story be more biased towards Dennis view of the place? If not, then I’d have to say how it sounded to Patrick. Maybe: Patrick laughed and the sound echoed in the cold night, off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens, clear and delicate as fine crystal. Dennis was unnerved. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to laugh in a cemetary?”

Is it? I don’t know if anyone thinks so. But Patrick would scoff, “Ah but what’s the use, Dennis, since it’s all dust to dust up in here anyways.”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

Maybe: Patrick sunk his shovel into the earth, the soil, the terroir, the fertile ground ready to grow a briar and a rose, like the song about Barbry Allen…sorry…Patrick sunk his shovel into the dirt, “Every action has meaning. By merely thinking, and the remarkable and instantaneous aquiescence of my capable muscles, I have thus caused this ground to clear the way for my mother’s broken body. Further and further we delve, where if we had not been, if she had not been, no delving would be done.”

Delve. Acquiesce. Hm…Wordpress spellcheck does not recognize the word aquiescence.

“Further and further we delve in to the dust to which we too will soon return,” Dennis spat. “Stroke after stroke, each stroke one stroke closer to death.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the grave and replaced it carefully at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Round four then:

The rolling tides of black cloud ferried the evening in among the austere graveyard. Two men dug in front of a humble stone, decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers.

Close to the gated entrance, there cowered a humble stone and two men bowing low to the hard earth, digging.

Cose to the gated entrance, a clean and proud, if relatively diminutive stone, decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers, watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving to make a difference, just to wind up here.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight.

Cool moonlight reflected off of Patrick’s crooked teeth as he smiled. Oooo. Patrick’s crooked smile reflected cool moonlight. Patrick’s toothy…Patrick’s sawtoothy…Patrick’s snaggle-tooth grin reflected cool moonlight.

“We live, because she lived. We love because she loved. Tonight, brother, we celebrate her life and honor her with the sweat of our brows, the strain of our backs. The woman who raises two boys against the hungers and terrors of this world, she has not lived in vain.”

A little preachy, but getting there I guess.

Patrick plucked a rose from the arrangement at the stone and proffered it to his brother. “She is as dead as this rose, but similarly, her beauty lives on.”

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “The rose will fade in a matter of hours. From dust we come, to dust we return.”

Patrick laughed and the sound echoed in the cold night, off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens, clear and delicate as fine crystal.

Dennis was unnerved. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to laugh in a cemetary?”

“Even here we make a difference,” said Patrick as he sunk his shovel into the dirt. “Each stroke clears the resting place for our mother, who we can bury properly because of this difference we have made.”

Shit still don’t know what to do with that.

“Further and further we delve in to the dust,” Dennis spat. “Stroke after stroke, each stroke one stroke closer to death.”

Patrick shrugged and scooped the rose from the grave, replacing it carefully at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Oops. 378 words now. Round 5, and at this point I’m just going to go with it. It’s been an experience anyway. And I’ve been working for…two hours?

Ah but shit that 378 included asides by me so not so bad after all.

Final round, all cut up:

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among the austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s snaggle-tooth grin reflected cool moonlight. He plucked a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He proffered the flower to his brother.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “The rose will wither in a matter of hours. We will wither in a matter of years.”

Patrick’s eerie laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the dirt. He emptied his shovel to the side. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis agreed. “Further and further we delve in to the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick lovingly scooped the rose from the grave, replacing it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Now for the title. Got to be good since it’s such a short story. Basically my thinking for this final cut was don’t overtell the story. The line about the terrors and hungers, I really liked that, but it’s not something someone would say, unless they were really damn smart. It’s something the narrator could say I guess, but there’s no place for it. So sadly it goes. And I want to leave some to the imagination, about the relationship of the rose to the person, and I didn’t want to get to sappy about we love because she loved, because I think that’s a Kirk Franklin and The Family song.

But the title, what a bitch.

Twilight in the Garden of Souls

Like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Digging

The Brothers Who Think Differently About Death and Other Things, Too.

That title endebted to Zoolander’s school for kids who want to learn to read and do other stuff, good, too, I’m sure Matticus will come through with the accurate quote there.

A Proper Burial

Like digging, these two titles at nothing to the story.

Laughing in the Cemetery

The Dusty Rose

Dust on a Rose

The Petal and The Rose and The Stone and Casper the Friendly Ghost

The Hand The Furnace The Straight Face

That’s a Project 86 song, by the way.

Burial…It’s a Real Bitch When You Do It Yourself

DIY Burial

The Hipsters in the Cemetery

Burial for Fun and Profit

Further and Further We Delve into the Dust

That’s fun but doesn’t add anything either. Son of a bitch.

But then the guy who wrote last year’s second place entry: Dutch Baby, also had those exact words in his story, so his didn’t technically add anything, even though he said that you have to make your title work for it’s pay.

Death Makes People Think About Their Lives

Making A Difference

Vanity

Pride

Pride Turns to Ashes in Their Mouths; and Their Bones Littered the Desert Until Judgment Day

The Cold Hard Earth

The Entrance

The Exit

Coming In Through the Out Door

Entrances and Exit

Exeunt

Farewell

By The Sweat of Their Backs

By The Strain of Their Backs and The Sweat of Their Brows, They Confront the Terror and the Hunger of The Cold Hard Earth

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

Hey there you go. And I used another word from the prompt.

For this to, is the lot of a man. And the cemetery is a sort of a lot isn’t it.

A vacant non-vacant lot where the kids can’t play baseball.

Well I wasn’t going to post this until the contest was over but fuck it. I’ve had so much fun I don’t care whether I win the contest or am disqualified. And I can’t wait to see what you think. And just in case everyone doesn’t want to read all this muck about, I’ll post just the story first and then this.

And I just printed it out and realized a few things. Lovingly was used twice. And two adverbs right next to each other “decorated lovingly with freshly” not good.  And dirt used twice too! Shit. And did I mention there’s kind of an incestuous homoeroticism going on here? “…loved.” He proffered the flower to his brother.” Well shit. Sounds like a proposition to me. Oo if he extended the flower to his brother we could add some further sexual innuendo there. Patrick’s totally gay for his brother. What’s a better word for “lovingly scooped?” Oh man if he “ladled” it out it’d be like he was eating homemade chicken noodle soup straight from his mother’s grave, how nourishing is that.

Hm, shit. This story is actually not a story. It’s more like a poem, an arrested image. A photograph in words. And that’s fine. And I’m still going to submit it. But I think it’s not actually a story.

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among an austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s toothsome smile reflected cool moonlight. He took a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He extended the flower to his brother.

Dennis accepted it and dropped it into the slowly opening grave at their feet. “The rose will wither before dawn. Our fate is the same.”

Patrick’s laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed eerily off the faces of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the loam. He tilted his shovel and watched the stuff accumulate along the mound. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis nodded. “Further and further we delve into the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the pit and replaced it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Ha, so I went to post that, and these suggested tags came up: Neurological Disorders, University of Auckland, Cannabis.

WTF

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among an austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s toothsome smile reflected cool moonlight. He took a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He extended the flower to his brother.

Dennis accepted it and dropped it into the slowly opening grave at their feet. “The rose will wither before dawn. Our fate is the same.”

Patrick’s laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed eerily off the faces of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the loam. He tilted his shovel and watched the stuff accumulate along the mound. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis nodded. “Further and further we delve into the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the pit and replaced it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Things I’ve Seen So Far in the Blizzard

Holy shit people are crazy. So far I’ve seen a dude with a shovel that was about twenty feet long, standing on a scaffold scraping snow from his roof. And a man spent five hours scraping off his Cadillac. He was next door. Then he drove it around the block with four feet of snow on the roof of it. Now a man is crossing in front of our window on long cross country skis. Not using the poles, just walking basically, with a shovel in his backpack. People were snowblowing the sidewalks right in the midst of the blizzard, the snow just not giving a fuck covering up their trail like that sweeper thing in Alice and Wonderland. The funniest thing has been watching the two guys trying to shovel their roof. And then this guy that looked like he was going to croak right in front of his door as he tried to shovel his walk. (Young dude or I would be nicer.) People are going mad trying to clean up the snow. I’m like, fuck it, it’s the weekend, my restaurant’s closed again, I’m not opening my door! It looked way prettier before these people fucked it all up with their incessant need to clean shit up or whatever it is that drives them.

Messy Desk (Rambling and Writing Practice)

I wanted to get started on something, but I just took too long. Now GF is coming home and I guess she’ll be here in 30 minutes or so. She’s a little sick and didn’t get much sleep last night so I’ll be taking care of her. AKA sitting on the couch and watching movies with her while she eats soup.

Got this big ass thing of coffee all made up, too. Don’t know if I’ll be able to sit still.

Till she gets here I might as well spout off something.

My desk is cluttered looks like the snowstorm came through here. No damn it that’s something my mother would say. What’s the best way to describe a cluttered desk? What’s the most interesting way I could possibly do it? I was reading in The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk about how focused practice is the only practice that makes us better. People do their jobs every day but they don’t necessarily improve every day. Only by trying to go beyond what you currently do can you become better. So he said the best way to become a better writer is to do writing drills, not just write like you always do. The best way to become stronger is of course to push yourself past your limits. George Patton says the same thing in Patton’s Principals. I used to keep a card of this quote in my wallet, and now I can’t think of it exactly. Except he said something like: You have command your body to work harder than it can, that way your body will say, ‘I’d better step it up if I’m going to keep up with this crazy mind.’ Well, it was way different than that, but still pretty colloquial like that. So the best way to get better at writing is to write something you don’t want to. Or something like that. I always want to improve my writing, that way I can just write anything and it will be interesting. That’s what Jack Kerouac ended up doing. He practiced all the time until he could just write about something and it would be poetry.

Ok, then. Cluttered desk. Cluttered desk. Desk is a mess. Desk is a mess. Shit is messy. Got a mess on this desk got to put it to rest. Can’t pass a test with a cluttered desk. I must confess my desk is a mess. Can’t pass a test with a messy desk. Messy desk yes it’s blessed.

Messy desk

Can’t be blessed

Must confess

Can’t pass no test

No not unless

Messy desk

Takes a rest

Checkbooks, textbooks, a clock that isn’t plugged in. Staring past the mess out to the street, out to the windows, out to the snowy clean ness of the rest of the world, everyone’s desk is clean but mine is a mess. There are pens and scissors and ripped up letters and things written on scrap paper things that aren’t scrap paper being written on, things that I have written and then written something else on them four years later. And this desk was not a mess just a little while ago. I cleaned it up for our first AirBnB guest so it was just as clean as it could be. Now it’s got my iPod charger cord and my ripped up copy of the New Yorker that I usually keep in my bookbag. It’s got tickets to The Breakers and my little black books from last year and papers papers papers, an application for a CVS card. And this is just shit I can see from this low slung vantage point, slouching backwards in my chair with no visibility. Old mess gets plowed under and ends up on top of new mess, like water in the ocean, or dirt in a field. What’s that process by which water from the bottom of the ocean comes to the top or something like that…reduction or some shit.

I’ve got to learn some more shit.

I wanted to write a little essay about Trader Joe’s. And about biking, too. I’m thinking that I should definitely start that new blog, but I’m thinking I should plan it out better. Like the whole thing should be an actual project, instead of kind of like a therapy which is what this blog really is or should be (thanks to psmprincess for pointing that out). So basically the new blog should be wholly contrived. Which is a word with a lot of negative connotations. But what is the actual definition? Well it simply means to create or bring about by skill or artifice. That’s not so bad. The essays will come from the heart, but then go through a skillful filter of sorts. But yeah so questions come up about should there be pages, shouldn’t it be simple to follow, and how to create a larger and larger audience for that shit so one day I can sit at home watch the snow and write essays instead of being a bartender. I love being a bartender right now, but I love writing even more, and when I’m 79 I don’t want to have to go to work every day. Man I’d love to live to be 79. I always feel like I’m going to die before that, because it’s so easy to do. Anything could kill you. But that’s a different topic altogether and I’m trying to practice some writing before GF calls, which could be any second now.

The snow is no joke out there now. That shit is truly covering everything and this is one of the first times in my life that I have been able to actually see it accumulate. I don’t normally sit in front of windows for this long. It’s sticking to the trees in shrouds now, and the cars are getting fucked up, you can see their whole windows are crystallizing and shit. The snow’s coming so fast and hard that it’s like a mist out there, everything loses color, it’s all whited out the further away things are. The yellows are less yellow. It’s funny too because once the sun comes out, the complete opposite will be true. The sun will reflect off the white and make everything seem like a movie by Pixar. More true than life. Those are some story telling mother fuckers, too. God damn they know how to grip the emotions.

My hands are so dry when I use a rough cloth to polish dishes at work, I feel like I’m the one scratching the cloth instead of the other way around. I feel like I could sand down sandpaper.

Well GF just called and she’s going to want picking up soon. So I’ll have to get to figuring that shit out. I’ll try to write more later today, but I might just read so she doesn’t have to listen to the tippity tapping of these keys.

 

A List of Things I Did This Morning

Last night I had a couple drinks and rode home. So when I got up this morning, about three hours after I had gone to bed, to say goodbye to GF, I was sure I was going to be a little hungover. I had drank two glasses of water before going to bed, and that turned to be both good and bad. Good because I was only a little hungover. Bad because I woke up like four times to go to the bathroom. And usually if I have to go I just hold it while I’m sleeping. I’m like a camel. But this shit was intense every single time I just couldn’t hold it. So that was my night.

Then I woke up and it’s supposed to be another Snowpacalypse out here in Boston. So GF wanted me to get some bread from the convenience store. So I got up with a mission at around 9:00, putting my sleep hours at about seven. Put on the same clothes I had on yesterday and said, “Fuck it. I’m going to Trader Joe’s.”

I pulled the bike out of the basement where I had put it last night for safe-keeping, out of the splash zone. Put on my REI facemask and put on my new, ridiculous looking forty-five dollar helmet and hopped right the fuck outside.

I didn’t eat breakfast or nothing, which on hangover days is usually bad news. I just rode, man, thinking God damn if this isn’t the greatest thing since blogging. Just fucking going over the river to TJ’s in a snow storm without having to look at bus schedules or anything. Of course, it’s just my luck that a fucking 64 bus was leaving at the same time as I was.

But no matter. I was doing it for more than convenience. I gotta say once I hopped on that bike I felt like a 98 pound weakling. I don’t use those thigh muscles like that. Hills are killer. But anyway I made it.

Rolled up in Trader Joe’s just as happy as a lark. Shit was a madhouse. But they still had bread! Couldn’t believe it. Got some other shit and stood in line, listening to this mom and her kids and they were all pushing up against me in line and shit. Then the dude, I paid him in ones and he said, “I hope this isn’t stripper money.” Well shit, what if it was. He’d feel like a fool. So I told him it was. Then I said just kidding I’m a bartender. But he didn’t give a damn either way I guess.

Oh on the way there I gave a homeless man a dollar and I never do that, mostly because I can’t afford to give any money away. But I just happened to have a lot of ones so I hopped off the bike and chased him down and gave him a dollar and he was super cool about it. I felt good about that.

And while I was at Trader Joe’s, and I guess all last night and to that homeless dude too I was calling everyone “brother.” I thought it might get annoying, but when I say it I feel connected to them. I haven’t called anyone sister yet, so I don’t know how that will go. But people seem to be taking it well, they seem to like it.

And then I jumped on the bike and ran into a trash can. Knocked the whole shit right over, banged up my knee, right in a crowded parking lot. Well no one gave a shit about it, didn’t laugh or even look at me, and I gaurantee you that shit was funny looking. It was a huge empty trash can and it clanged and fell into three pieces. So I guess people were just worried about Snowmageddon.

Yeah they closed my restaurant down today because nobody would show anyway. It’s great in one way but it sucks to lose that money.

Well I rode back real leisurely as I couldn’t really muster any more effort than that. And I cruised on home and rolled up in this bitch feeling fine. It was a bitch getting the bike back downstairs but whatever.

I ate some banana bread and called Wells Fargo and closed my account, finally! The damn thing keeps getting overdrafted so I can’t close it but finally I caught it at a zero balance. And then I made a big payment to my student loan so they’ll shut up for a while. And I kept a little money for myself! Which I never do, but I think I’ll bank some of it. Start “paying myself first” like you read in all those Robert Kawasaki books. Is that his name? Shit I forget.

It’s Kiyosaki apparently, I just had to look it up and thus broke one of my rules but now it’s pretty funny that I said Kawasaki.

And then I got on here and started reading some blog posts. And then I started watching NBA dunk contests because someone was talking about Spud Webb.

But I have a lot I want to write about and time is dwindling. I was thinking I might start a whole blog about biking, too, but I guess I’m starting to spread myself thin.

Alright I’m going to eat some lunch and make some coffee and see what’s what.

The First Ride

Well it’s 2:00 in the morning and I have to get out of here quick before GF hears me typing and can’t sleep before she has to be at work tomorrow at 5 AM and the blizzard of the century is on it’s way.

But I wanted to get some things in to write about tomorrow, so I can remember them.

Buying the helmet…45 dollars…son of a bitch.

Bike parking lot…didn’t know that was there….sweet!

Leaving clothes at work…awesome.

Family meal = shit.

Tired…then fine…then do you want to go out for a beer? Biking there together.

Biking home…own the roads…no one around…using muscles I don’t ever use.

Aunt Dot Gloves.

The Druid…guy with Appalachian Trail hair…crazy music…coworkers still there.

Regulars trying to stay late…demanding customers…ego…waving arms when you know what they want but are doing something just wait one fucking minute!

People dancing at the Druid…terrible.

Coworker = Kurt Cobain?

Biking = Awesome.

Dude came in and stood next to other coworker…masturbating?

Putting bike downstairs.

Ok I guess I’m going to take a shower and go to bed now. See you in the morning.

Bike Project Day One

It’s been a strange morning. Outside the cold is enough to bite your nipples off. The cold is like a son of a bitch bastard with a vengeance. Like Hurley Turley and the Run Around Gang all came down from the sky with a nipple ripping fetish. And what it really gnaws on is your fingers. My fingers, to be more exact, since I’m the one around here with no gloves. Or rather, one glove, and that’s about worse than having none.

We woke later than usual. Or at least I did. I don’t know when GF got up. I got up at 9 and I felt like I had to piss a river. But I also felt tired as shit. But what I didn’t feel was the least bit sick. I guess last night’s nose hi-jinx were just a fluke. Either that or the wine, red meat, Emergen-C, and mysterious pink pill put the virus to bed.

I was having a dream that a blogger made this cartoon about penguins killing a lion with a cannon. The lion was holding a gun up to them and snickering but he didn’t know they had a cannon. Then a million penguins came out of the cannon after they shot him with it and they all chased him down this hole. But then the lion rallied, and he was after all of us, and it wasn’t a cartoon any more.

It was cold as a bitch. Somewhere in the middle of the night I had taken my clothes off. How is it hot in the middle of the night and then cold in the morning? I don’t know.

Then I came out and was hungry but couldn’t think of what to do and it was almost time to walk GF to the metro anyway. The “T” rather.

I put on my thermal long sleeve shirt and about thirteen hats and we went out there, into the blinding white. And it’s supposed to snow more tomorrow. Things weren’t looking good for the start of my biking to work deal.

Coming home I tried to notice a few things that I could write about. All I noticed were that some of the trees had no leaves. And some of them were evergreen coniferous trees or some such, and I remember two leaves blew across the road. And a man nearly killed me when he made a maniacal left turn in front of on-coming traffic.

When I returned home I set to work at once on figuring out this bike situation. I turned the key in the lock. They’ve been sitting outside for months with that lock around them, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised when it didn’t turn all the way. I came inside and got a hammer. I read that this particular lock, “OnGuard,” was notorious for rusting out or some such. I cursed my misfortune. I looked up bikes on  Craigslist. I gave up and read some Hunter Thompson essays.

Then I went out and tried the lock again. Well, I had been using the wrong key. The lock came easily undone when I used the key that said “OnGuard” on it. Son of a bitch.

Then I tried to ride the bike, but the tires were flat as shit, so I still need to go to the shop. And the rear brakes don’t seem to work.

It’s nearly twelve now. So I’ve got about two and a half hours to figure out if I can get this bike working well enough to ride to work. Not exactly what I want to spend my day on, but the days go by so fast anyway, it’ll be Monday before you know it.

Who the Fuck is Alphonse Karr?

Well he’s just another French novelist. He happened to say first (in French, originally) that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ten seconds ago I’d never heard of him, but tripped over his name at the end of this essay call “The Hellfire Club.”

“Maybe Alphonse Karr was wrong,” he says. Just tossing it out there, with no follow up about Karr. In fact it’s the last line of the essay. I don’t know, maybe most people in the 80’s knew the name. But somehow I doubt it. What was he up to here? Just a little throw away for the keepers of arcane knowledge? Or maybe he threw the name in because Karr was writing at the same time period he was talking about (the era of the American Revolution, when apparently the Earl of Sandwich couldn’t be bothered to authorize a new mast for Captain Cook‘s flagship and this led to Cook’s being eaten by angry natives). That would be clever. I guess that’s it. And Karr couldn’t know he was wrong as he wouldn’t be proved so until long after his death, when things really have changed. Or have they? Which does Thompson think?

So much for Empire. These boys liked their orgies and nothing was going to interfere. These were giants. They had standards–not like these whimpering mashers [i.e. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker] who keep fouling our headlines today.

Maybe Alphonse Karr was wrong.

Stat Junkie

It was clear that these people were swingers of some kind, sodomites up from L.A. for the weekend. There was talk of orgies and flogging, and also of calling the baby sitter and getting back in time for the Rams game. One of the women asked me what I thought about Ed Meese, the new attorney general.

“He’ll get you,” I said. “You’ll all be in jail before long.”

She backed away and stared at me. “What are you?” she muttered, “Some kind of creep?”

“I am the night manager of the O’Farrell Theatre,” I said, “the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America. I am the final authority on these things. I know the face of decadence.”

Hunter Thompson wrote that in October of 1985. In his early days, he would type whole manuscripts of great writers just to see what it felt like to write those words. The Great Gatsby and I think some Hemingway, but I might be wrong about that. It feels good to write those words. Especially, “I know the face of decadence.” And, “He’ll get you.” I don’t know why this is funny, I guess because I can just see him walking up to these cats in front the elevator in the middle of the night, and they’re asking him about Ed Meese, who he no doubt knows all about, being a politics junkie, and he tells them he’s the night manager of O’Farrell Theatre, for no reason at all.

When I read Thompson I like to listen to Bob Dylan. He liked Dylan and so do I. He was a self proclaimed politics junkie. He said following politics and being a part of it was a rush better than sex. A habit worse than heroin.

I found I have a problem, too. I’m turning into a stat junkie. I check my stats all the time to see how many people have looked at my blog since I was last here. Sometimes I just write a post lately so people will look at it and like it. That’s not a road I want to go down. I want this to be about more than stats. Although I do love cataloguing and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And maybe stat checking has something akin to that. But I’m running out of things to write about because I’m not putting more things into my head because I’m trying to get home and read the new comments and check the new stats and so on. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it, nothing drastic. I guess I’m just going to make an effort to read more and take more stuff in and all that. Live in the moment and whatnot.

Tenuta Delle Terre Nere 2011

Oh yes, Beloved, the time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. Damn I need to memorize the rest of that poem. Now GF is home and brought Venison Wellington and also a cold virus. So now I’m drinking wine and eating Wellington and drinking Emergen-C. I can not miss any work! Although I’d love to stay home and write, it just don’t play that way in the service industry.

Yeah but shit I better get on this wine training thing. I was thinking I’d learn about wine while I was at work, but I’m always too busy working so got to figure it out otherwise. So I thought I’ll just bring home the bottles that we have for wine service and learn about them one at a time.

This wine is Tenuta della Terre Nere and I think it’s from Sicily. I’m reading The World Atlas of Wine on Sicily now. And GF and I are hacking and sneezing and my eyes are watering now. Shit!

I’ll just take one of these unlabeled pink pills I found in the medicine cabinet. That should do it. And more wine thanks.

Ok so it appears that Sicily is a place where a lot of other civilizations, or a lot of civilizations just, have made their mark and then evaporated. There’s some Greek temples, some Roman shits…something else up in there I’m sure. And it’s got so many different kinds of wine growing regions that the Atlas raves that it should be called a continent instead of an island.

You know, it sucks to get sick but I don’t mind so much. Just imagine if I had “suicide headaches.” Those are the unexplained headaches featured in such films as Darren Aranofsky’s Pi, where the pain is purportedly on par with childbirth (they know so because a mother contracted them). Well, you can do a lot of good living if you think, well shit, this sucks but what if this. Like yesterday I was kind of bored, but I thought about all the times I’ve been so hung over that I had to run to the bathroom to throw up between waiting on tables and how much that sucked and how I thought in those times that I would be so grateful to the world when the alcohol had gone because anything would be better than to have that hangover (not including suicide headaches of course). So at least I’m not hungover and working at a restaurant right now. Or at least I’m not inside an MRI. I did a bunch of MRIs at the NIH to get paid and I didn’t think I was claustrophobic but turns out I’m a little claustrophobic. I really had to focus on my breathing. And the first time I thought, well, once I’m out of here, normal life will seem like paradise in comparison to this shit.

But back to wine then.

Sicily is perfect for organic growing because it’s so damn hot that you don’t have to worry about pests. On the southern tip of the island, winds from Africa bring the grapes to boiling point, but inland, apparently, it is cooler. They grow these grapes that they usually use for Masala, called Cataratto…at least I think so.

In the mid 90s and I guess before that, Sicily made strong wine that the Italians would then use for blending. Now they are focusing more on quality wines that can stand on their own. The Planeta family has been largely responsible for this. They are trying to make the native varieties viable, even standing up against Merlot and Chardonnay, which apparently the Planetas are famous for.

Nero d’Avola is the most famous grape so far. Avola is in the southeastern part of Sicily. There is also Nerello Mascalese from the slopes of Mt. Etna, which I think is where my wine is from. The bottle just says Etna Rosso. Mt Etna is a live volcano, so these motherfuckers are crazy to be growing grapes on that shit. Oh shit! They’re talking about my wine now. Apparently Nerello is a part of Etna Rosso, which is supposed to be “spicy.” Well, yeah, I think this wine is pretty spicy. It tastes like dark fruit, even though I don’t eat dark fruit, and I guess really grapes could be a dark fruit, so it pretty much tastes like grapes I suppose. Big surprise there. It doesn’t seem to go very well with my venison wellington either.

Cataratto is the “workhorse white grape of the west.” And they got some moscato type grapes round there and some malvasia, which is a word I hear a lot.

So looks like Terre Nere uses simple vinification processes instead of getting all fancy with it. They put the wine in 25% new oak and they bottle it without filtering it after 18 months. The vineyards are way up on the mountain so they get hot direct sunlight but cold nights, which makes for elegant wine as opposed to the high alcohol intensely flavored southern Sicilian wines. This is some of the highest grape growing type shit going on. This is some risky business going on. Anyway I got all that from a “Winemakers Note” on some wine shopping web site.

The volcanic eruptions leave deposits of volacnic soil, which creates an easy draining terroir with little nutrient density that makes the grapes struggle to grow, which can generally make good wine.

Well, everyone is saying it’s light bodied and great with red meat but I did not find it to be so. Of course, I am having a hard time smelling so that could do it. Also I don’t like wine. But I’m working on that.

An American importer of wines from Northern Italy, Marco de Grazia, started the vineyard in 2002. The wine is a little tannic, tastes like dark fruit, has a light body I suppose. I don’t like it.
So bottom line:
Marco di Grazia moved to Mt Etna in 2002 to take advantage of the volcanic terroir and high elevation in order to make some outstanding and unique wines. Terre Nere is his entry level wine made with nerello grapes. It’s light bodied and well balanced and goes well with red meat and white fish.
There you go. Wine post. Done.