Was it Tuesday? Yeah it was Tuesday.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Spinning Yarns.”

What makes a good storyteller?

For starters I prefer someone who can end a story. So, not me. My stories have good beginnings and then by the middle I’m like so anyway how was your weekend?

My favorite storytellers are famous people because the people I know don’t really tell great stories. It seemed like back in the day I knew some funny storytellers, but not really any more. I think maybe some of the people I work with.

I hate storytellers who focus on details that don’t matter. Like when something actually happened when that isn’t part of the story. “Was it Tuesday? No, no…I think it was…Wed…nesday? Yeah, Wednesday. No it was Tuesday because that’s when I ate that sandwich I had been saving.”

Some of my favorite storytellers are Allie Brosh, Louis CK and Kurt Vonnegut. The first two are hilarious and the last one is funny, surprising and insightful. Oh and I love PG Wodehouse’s stories as long as they aren’t about golf. I like stories that are complex and twisty and have good endings. I like Sherlock Holmes stories, too.

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Half Ass Post About Walden

I’m thinking truly nothing today, so I’m going to have to defer to some more Walden up in here. I was reading that some people think Thoreau was a buffoon with stupid ideas. Well I guess people think that about everyone. At least Robert Frost liked him. I don’t know anything about him except this book and what I wrote in my first post. But the book seems worthwhile to me.

There has been a lot of talk about sitting on pumpkins and well, nothing bad can come of that.

I guess I left off on “It is never to late to give up our prejudices.” Well, that’s a comforting thought. Most of the time I think I don’t have a choice in life. He writes “…it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left.” That’s worth thinking about.

“What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can.” Thoreau apparently has this thing about old people not being necessarily wise. If he stopped there I would agree that being old is not a sufficient condition for wisdom. But he also thinks that people know more about life when they are younger, and forget and become set in their ways as they get older. I don’t know how I feel about that. I can see it, especially in the Picasso sense of every child being an artist. But old people usually know what’s up. I guess they just collect a lot of prejudices and that can be a problem.

It’s funny that he wrote this like two hundred years ago and he talks about fuel in the same way that Kurt Vonnegut does in Man Without a Country. He writes “…people put a little dry wood under a pot, and are whirled around the globe with the speed of birds, in a way to kill old people…”

Which is like Vonnegut’s quote that I’ve quoted probably twice here before, about gasoline, “Talk about a destructive high! You put some of this stuff in your car and you can go a hundred miles an hour, run over the neighbor’s dog, and tear the atmosphere to smithereens.”

So that’s a funny parallel.

Well. Shit I’m not feeling very enthusiastic right now, even with this coffee. It’s almost time to go to work. I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee the last few days and it just hasn’t been doing me any good. It’s like the first time I drink a lot of it after not drinking any for a few days, that’s awesome. But then I’m like, man I’ve got to keep doing this, this is great! And then it just gets worse and worse and I just get all nervous and shit. Anxious and not even very awake. And my eyes start tearing up. I don’t know, shit’s weird.

But anyway, I’m trying to post every day just to keep in practice. Tomorrow I’m going to a Cinco de Mayo brunch and I’m bringing a lot of tequila and limes so I don’t know if I will post.

Fun With Paintbrush

I love Hyperbole and a Half and miss the comics so much I am thinking about making my own. Here are two drawings I tried to do of me calling my grandmother, which I had written a post about before deciding I was too bored to post it.

First Paint ThingSecond Paint Thing

 

And then I tried to draw more like Allie because hers are the funniest.

Here’s my first attempt at “Go to the Motherf*cking BANK like an ADULT”:

First Attempt at Allie

And then my second:

Second Attempt at Allie

It would definitely be worth it to get a mouse. The trackpad is really starting to give me arthritis. Especially when writing the words.

I’m pretty sure this is infringement of copyright or something, so Allie if you see this I would be honored to hear from you, even if it was just to tell me to take it down, which of course I will!

This is my first post with pictures in it. Don’t know why I feel the need to say that.

Hm…shit is this copyright infringement? I mean, Kurt Vonnegut and Thoreau don’t care if I quote them, because they’re DEAD now…but what will Allie think? Ah fuck it, not like she’ll see it.

But anyway I’ll probably keep trying to draw like her for a while, and not post it, and then eventually draw something sort of like her but sort of like me. That’s how you learn.

 

Thoughts Upon Waking Up (Not Deep)

Just got out of bed it’s about ten AM over here on the East Coast and I straight took off work today out of nowhere. It was probably imprudent of me to tell GF this since all she wants is a day off, having just graduated culinary school, but instead she has been scheduled for every day this week at her job that she worked part time while in school. I just realized this as I woke up from a luxurious sleep. She was good not to say anything about it this morning, she left nicely aside from the usual turning on and off of the lights, and that wasn’t so bad because she used the little light. So that was nice of her. But anyway the point is that I have the whole day off. And the more startling thing is that I have tomorrow off, too, except that I have to go in and “deep clean” at 2:00, which was abruptly decided yesterday around 2 PM.

Ah shit I’ll never have the blog of my dreams, the mad views, if I just write like this all the time, just write whatever comes into my head and call that the end of the day. Last night I dreamt that I had a surge of viewers all the sudden, and they were all swelling on this one post and then they were moving onto other posts and it just came out of nowhere after I wrote about an old person in my family dying of Alzheimer’s. And somehow the stat tracking was so crazy I just threw it over trees and draped it around and stuff. I don’t know, that was crazy. Then I dreamed that my chess playing cousin (who doesn’t play chess and no one in the family does but in the dream we all did) was hit by a car and died. He was arguing with his siblings about the way he should drive when he pulled over to the side of the road and got out of the car and was immediately run over. Bad way to watch someone go, right after an argument. Cars are deadly. Kurt Vonnegut in Man Without a Country says:

Our government is conducting a war against drugs, is it? Let them go after petroleum. Talk about a destructive high! You put some of this stuff in your car and you can go a hundred miles an hour, run over the neighbor’s dog, and tear the atmosphere to smithereens.

The Dead Weather in Cut Like a Buffalo says:

You can hit me if you have to

Whatever makes you happy

You should try to take it easy on me

Cuz I don’t know how to take it

Hoo shit my computer froze up right there thought I was going to lose what I wrote so far. That wouldn’t be such a tragedy I guess it only took me about ten minutes to write all that.

I’m trying to think of what I should do today. I think I should do something like an adult. I should go to the motherfucking bank like an adult! I can’t be funny today so I’m just using other people. Maybe I’ll get some coffee and try again. The coffee at work just tastes like shit and gives me a bad feeling. It’s weird because I don’t really believe that’s true, because I know it’s all just coffee, but every time I drink it I don’t feel good.

I Just Wanna Say This

Well, spring is the mischief in me and in the world so it seems. That is all.

There are so many colors outside now. And the whole week is supposed to be nice, nice, very nice. Yesterday was cold and wet and I took the bus to work instead of riding the bike. Big mistake there. The bus was late getting here and then I ended up taking a cab back from work because the next bus was in 96 minutes. 96 minutes. How does that even work?

That reminds me of a newish thing I hate. It’s funny that I hate it because people say it when they hate or don’t understand something. I hate when people say, “Really? REALLY?” Everyone is at it now. It makes me want to say, “Really?” to them for saying “really.”

The bus situation would have been a perfect occasion for me to say “Really?” And that’s why I thought of the fact that I hate when people say that. Recently Leo from Zen Habits wrote a post about anger stemming from selfishness. Like if you get mad at someone for doing something then you’re just imposing your expectations on a world that obviously doesn’t conform to your expectations even half of the time. In light of that of course I’m just being childish when I expect the bus to come more than once every god damn hour and a half.

Yesterday when I got to work I was like, “Shit man I left my house at 9:30 and just got here at 10:30.” And this new dude at work says, “Well I left my house at 8:30.” Well I’m like shit why do you live so god damn far away? Because this mother fucker drives to work. I’m like damn man you practically decimated the ozone on your way into work every morning. Haha but of course we’re all at work on that one, or maybe it’s a conspiracy. But anyway, I guess you could counter by saying well shit the economy is such a bitch that people have to drive two hours to get a restaurant job! To which I’d say bullshit. The economy is depressed as Eeyore out this mother fucker that’s true, but restaurant jobs are everywhere. But maybe I’m lying to everyone. It did take me a while to find this one. And the general manager drives down from New Hampshire every day. I really don’t think it’s necessary but I could be wrong. Anyway if I had to drive two hours to get to the nearest job, you know what I’d do? I’d fucking move! AKA if I didn’t have any money I’d sleep in the employee bathroom. Fuck driving two hours to work every day.

Yeah but anyway. What the hell was I talking about in this bee-itch. Oh well it’s pretty obvious to certain readers that I have had a lot of coffee today. I try to get down on coffee, like I try not to drink it. I don’t know why, I hear bad things about it and I have a fear of addiction. And GF is definitely addicted. Not crazy addicted but she needs to have it every morning. So just a normal American. But to me that’s scary. I am not reinforced by that. I read a blog post somewhere about how coffee works, some blog about keeping your health or something…shit how did I even find that blog? But anyway it just blocks the chemical that triggers your body to go to sleep from getting into your brain somewhere, so in essence it doesn’t do anything for you, or that’s what the post was trying to posit. And I agree with that from a purely materialistic standpoint. And I usually try to think of things in purely materialistic terms. I have been thinking of cutting that shit out…materialistic thinking that is…but I’ll talk about that later maybe.

But anyway, when I drink too much coffee I feel really great for a little while. Maybe I do crash later and that’s why I am afraid to drink to much of it. But you know what I do when I don’t drink coffee? I crash the whole day. Ok no I don’t crash all day. I just stay at the same level all day. Maybe I’m bi-polar.

Here I found that blog post about caffeine.

Hey while we’re talking about other people’s blogs, here’s a reference:

Q: What do you say to somebody you just murdered for talking to much?

A: Well you’re DEAD now. So SHUT UP.

Oh good Christ that is some funny shit right there.

Hoo damn well it’s nice as a bitch outside and I am sitting in here like a mad man. I was rereading Kurt Vonnegut’s Man Without a Country. It gave me so much joy to read it. I feel everything that he says. The world is so fucked so let’s all laugh and dance, he says, and you can really get behind it because he is a very kind person and he never says fuck or shit and he’s smart and old and wise, even though he’s DEAD now.

Ah but it made me think maybe I should just stop reading new books and just reread the ones I’ve already read that were really good. I think that would be a satisfactory way of avoiding the feeling that I’m missing out on everything.

I’m listening to Charlie Parker now because I read most of Blues People about three times but I still haven’t gotten all the way to the very end. I’m like ten pages away and I put it down to read something exciting I saw at the library. And I’ve got this damn book from the library that will probably make it impossible for me to take new books out since I’ve had it for like three weeks past the due date. I always do that. I don’t see any reason for making a special trip to the library and I haven’t been by there so the book just won’t get returned I guess. But there’s a part of the book where he quotes from an earlier book of his, Cat’s Cradle and he says something like “There was a lot of suffering and misery so I made up lies so that everything would seem to have meaning and everyone could live in peace and happiness.” Something like that. And of course that’s the fake guru Bokonon saying that about Bokononism, which I’ve talked about before.And anyway it’s making me rethink materialism. If I could just convince myself of the lies maybe I could also feel fulfilled.

Well I could go on about whatever now. But I guess I’ll keep this to a somewhat readable length.

Money, Friends, AirBnB

Yesterday spent like a hundred and fifty bucks on groceries. GF is getting ready for her final project at school. We hung out with the AirBnB guest. I was making margaritas and I was like here have one! And he was like nah and I thought that it was because he didn’t want to drink but he just didn’t feel right taking out liquor or whatever. Then we opened some wine and I was like here have some and it was the same thing but in the end he did take some after we convinced him that we were earnest in our generosity. I mean it doesn’t seem implausibly generous to me, but this is his first AirBnB stay. It was fun. It reminded me of what Kurt Vonnegut says in an essay about modern society and extended families.

But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it’s a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it’s a man.

When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it’s about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they’re really saying to each other, though without realizing it, is this: ‘You are not enough people!’

A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It’s a terribly vulnerable survival unit.

It was crazy because we had spent the whole day together and were having a good time, but when he showed up and sat down we had a million new things to talk about, even though we’ve talked about those kinds of things a thousand times with each other, it was all new material while he was there.

I just got my new shoes in the mail. I’m still waiting for some god damn protein powder. Don’t know how I’m supposed to make it through these ten hour shifts with no food. But the shoes are mad expensive. They are Danskos. GF has them and likes them so I thought I would try them out. And I finally have enough money to buy something expensive.

We Got Another Thing Comin’ Undone

The National just knows how to write whatever they want and make it a song. The words can’t hardly make sense but they are just right for the rhythm and they manage to somehow evoke feeling.

I was thinking about tasting wine. I’ve never been very good at it, or good at all. In fact I didn’t even like most of the wines I tried, and I tried a lot that were supposed to be good.

But I’ve never tasted as many as I have in these past couple of months. And the more I taste and the more I drink, even if it’s not tasting new wines it’s like drinking a whole bottle of each kind…so I guess what I’m saying is the more wine you drink, even if it’s the same two wines, the more wine that goes into your body the better you start to understand what you’re supposed to be looking for. It’s like tasting is a kind of relative thing. The first thing you have to do is drink enough so that you know what grapes in general taste like, and then you can look for the other subtleties if you want to.

It’s like Vonnegut says in Bluebeard, if you want to be able to tell a good painting from a bad one, you only need to look at a million paintings. Then you can never be wrong.

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

Happy Feet

Readability Index: Readable

Hot damn can’t hardly work around this bitch cuz I got my man’s house mix keyed up and this shit is hot! You ever get something from your friends like a story or a CD or something that they made and you think to yourself shit I hope this is good because I don’t want to have to pretend I liked it next time I see them? Well, thankfully my boy shut that shit down and came out with some infectious house masterpieces. I remember the last time a friend gave me a CD it was this dude made his own raps with some friends and it was just embarrassing.

Ho but yeah I wanted to be up early to get down on this new idea I had. But I couldn’t. I got home last night at 3 in the morning after working until 2:30. I remember thinking, it’s probably getting towards one o’clock as I was cleaning up and then looking at my phone it was almost two. Yeah but it was a great night. We were slammin the whole time but we held the line and in the end I made almost four hundred bucks. Bartending is the truth!

Yeah so I didn’t get up at 8:30 like I thought I would. And I got to pay the rent today. And somehow I had to figure out how to outsmart those American Express bastards. They’re not so bad, it’s the Wells Fargo dudes. Ah shit I guess I’m really to blame. Sounds like Margaritaville in here. But anyway I figured out how to shut that shit down and it only took about half an hour. Which is more than I wanted but less then it could have been. And there goes another hundred dollars spent and still haven’t replaced my shoes with holes in them. But fuck it. Least that’s nearly taken care of.

Ha and I did the dishes before I sat down to this bitch. And got dressed too. Man I ate some chicken that GF made for me the other night. Was banging like a storm door and I could really feel the love in every bite.

So I basically got about an hour before I got to exit the doors and find that crazy landlord of mine and get him paid up.

So my grand scheme. I was thinking of something the hilarious MrGhuxley wrote on his post about trousers or something: Newspapers are just comic books for people who take life too seriously. And I was thinking about the books I look at most: Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, Hunter S. Thompon’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Gonzo Papers, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Man Without a Country, and how they’re all at least sort of non-fiction, or kind of new journalism. And I thought about how I like to draw stupid little comics on napkins. And I thought I could make some kind of faux-journalistic blog about random bullshit with comics in it. Yeah that’s pretty much what I thought.

I thought I might use this blog as a place to write the rough drafts and think about what I’m going to write before selecting and winnowing out (winnow) what’s useful to the project at hand.

By the way, anyone reading this should totally go read Suffering With Meaning. It’s worth much more than the five minutes it will take to read it. And it says so succinctly what I’ve been trying to get at with a lot of the weird rambling posts on this blog.

I’ve got about twenty minutes before I have to leave so I’m going to try to think of what my first article/essay is going to be about.

Reading About Jazz, Listening to Swing

Readabilty Index: Unreadable

This morning I woke up around 8:30. I had some kind of weird dream. Ah fuck I don’t really remember what it was. But at the time it was very vivid. I stood out in the kitchen just staring at shit for a while. I don’t know why. I didn’t know what to do. I always feel like I should be doing something important. But there’s nothing important to do.

Yesterday my girlfriend and I went down to the coast for our anniversary. We went to this Turkish coffee shop called Sofra. I got this orchid root drink that was too sweet and flowery for me. She liked it. She got a hazelnut latte that actually tasted like hazelnuts. I got an egg sandwich on bread that they made there. It was super light and flavorful. There’s got to be a better word than flavorful. Zesty. Nah. But fuck it. Then we drove to Newport and toured The Breakers. Then we went to lunch and had oysters and beer and chowder and a burger and talked about taking a trip to Europe instead of Asia. Then we drove around and went home. We were supposed to go out to eat but instead I got us some takeout from Bon Chon Chicken. It was delicious. And flavorful. So fucking flavorful. And we watched The Pirates! Band of Misfits (interesting quote from the Wikipedia article: “In January 2012, it was reported that the latest trailer of The Pirates! attracted some very negative reactions from the ‘leprosy community’.”). It was funny. I watched the end twice because she fell asleep halfway through. But then she fell asleep before the end again.

This morning I still had the Zipcar so I told her I’d take her to the train station before I dropped it off. Then I was going to go to the bank and then the library on the bus and get some more coffee, but once we got in the car I realized I had left my bag inside with the books I had to return and the cash I had to deposit, so I said fuck it. I came back here and started reading Blues People. I was looking for this other quote I’d seen and it didn’t take me too long to find it. Just about half an hour or…more like an hour I guess. I’m trying to just calm down and enjoy doing one thing instead of worrying about the things I’m not doing.

The quote was on page 199: “…the music by the mid-forties had also begun to get tagged with that famous disparagement art (meaning superfluous, rather than something that makes it seem important that you are a human being).”

It’s interesting because he’s talking about how the music was a way for black people to think and express themselves in a culture that wasn’t their own. Music was just something you did to get through. It was a necessary part of life. Whereas art is contrived. Or something. I guess in the 1940s the word ‘art’ had different connotations than it does today, because today it’s viewed positively. But I can still make a connection to my own life because I worry that what I’m doing isn’t art. But art, at least according to Kurt Vonnegut, is just something you should do to deal with life. In A Man Without a Country, one of my favorite books, it’s a book of essays about divers subjects, he says:

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

I think I’m definitely going to get in trouble for just quoting these books. Or at least I hope so. I just hope they don’t want any money, because I haven’t got it.

Ah shit speaking of that I was supposed to close my Wells Fargo account today before American Express tries to take some more money out of there and overdrafts the damn thing for the eighth time in two months.

But anyway. Why wasn’t I on here writing up a storm on Saturday? Well, shit, my girlfriend and I spent the morning together. Walking down to Oak Square and then back up to Treats bakery on Washington Street. Then I went to work and it was crazy. I missed the one bus, then I had to run up the street to catch a different bus, and it crossed the road just out of reach and I ran after it and it stopped at the next stop to pick up like five people. It was right in front of a stoplight that had been green for a while so I thought it would stop…hoped it would anyway. So I kept running in my thick boots and closed in…but that damn light didn’t change. And the bus went right through and then the light changed. So I walked the four miles to work. Ran the last mile because I was running out of time. Then we had a huge party and I made like four hundred bucks. But it was another one of those situations where people were getting drunk by the end and we were about to have to cut people off. Thankfully we were able to just close the bar at the appointed time and didn’t have to do that. It’s the one part of bartending that I really suck at. And then four of us got into a car and my friend took us all home, which was fucking suite.

Ah shit. But today I’m supposed to do the laundry too. Yesterday my fellow bartender texted me and asked me to cover for him today. I guess I pissed him off because I asked if he still needed me to cover for him…I guess it was because I texted him like ten hours after he texted me. Because I had my phone off all day because I had gotten like three straight calls from some bill collector. Oh that’s what my dream was about. My friend who went to Afghanistan came back and stayed with me and my mom at my childhood home, but he was still pissed at me but we were supposed to hang out a lot and I knew my girlfriend was not going to like it. Yeah.

So that’s what’s going on around this motherfucker today. Shit I better get to it.