Life As a Series of External Events

A few days ago these two guys I work with, one is a Shakespearean actor and the other is a cinephile, started talking about books, so I got involved. I don’t think that the conversation helped anyone. Before I knew it, I was telling them which translation of Crime and Punishment is the best and why, the actor was telling me that I was confusing Robert Heinlein with Werner Heisenberg (I wasn’t), and I think none of us are going to read what the others were suggesting. I never really talk about books out loud but I don’t think I will try again. It felt like we were masturbating in a circle in a crowded kitchen.

Today I’m going in early to take care of this health insurance bullshit. I am making lists and trying to plan things. Yesterday I was walking to work and I thought about what kind of life I really want to have. I couldn’t think of anything besides cutting down trees of course.

I tried to think about why do I even read books. Do I really read the classics because they are entertaining, or so I can tell people I’ve read them? I hope I read them because they express eternal truths, but I don’t know. I like the idea that stories tell a truth that can not be told any other way. The fact that I slogged through Les Miserables and then sped up through the ending as it got more entertaining shows that I read it for entertainment and pleasure. But then I think I should read Sparknotes so that I can understand what the characters are supposed to represent and all. But then maybe I should just go back and try to figure out that for myself. But then there are so many other books to read.

I decided again that I have a bad attitude and a tendency to complain because it’s fun. But then maybe that leads to actually feeling more miserable overall. And then I tried to think that I thought about myself too much anyway, and that’s why I was miserable. And maybe if I could just think of others or of the world as a whole or just focus on action or focus on whatever I need to focus on, then I could have a successful life.

But I already have a pretty successful life. I wake up reasonably late, I work few hours and yet still pay all my bills, I’m in good health (at least superficially), I’m married. Maybe I should just stop thinking about it. I think I have a good life when I don’t think about it. Like when I consciously put my life on hold when a friend comes over. Or when I have to work a lot and I just think of the days as already wasted so I don’t put any thought into it, or try to achieve something extra.

Maybe if I could just focus on writing as a technique driven exercise I would be happier doing it. John Gardner says most of what you write you write because you have to get this character into this room or you have to foreshadow something or you have to create some character to create this emotion in another character. Maybe if I could just focus on accomplishing some definite action while I’m writing, then I would be better at it and create more. And he says that when you write the story, your interpretation of the story must come out of you since it’s you that is writing it. So instead of trying to say whatever you want to say, just write the story and the truth that you have discovered will end up in there.

Maybe that’s like life.

Maybe if I just focus on the action of life, while being present and engaged, then whatever meaning there is won’t end up there because I thought about it half the day and thereby put myself into a narcissistic black hole, but it will be there because I did those actions. Maybe that way my life can be clean and pure, like a weathered old man in the tundra cutting down a tree.

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FTDS

Fuck the dumb shit man it’s time to get active. Easy to get pissed off when you’re drinking whiskey and reading other people’s success stories so fuck em let em read their own shit. I’d rather read about other people’s depression.

I’m getting back in the “I’m going to write shit for money” mood so I am writing a lot today. I wrote a lot yesterday, too, so that’s a writing spree right there.

When I was walking through the city yesterday on my way from one job to the next, I was thinking about that bitch at work who always yells at me for some dumb shit. And then I realized I shouldn’t think about that bitch on my own time so I didn’t. I also realized I should stop thinking about shit while I’m walking through the city and think about walking through the city instead and I’ve wanted to live here for a while so might as well enjoy it.

The city smells like shit and when I woke up this morning my apartment smelled like shit because Sister fed her cat and cat food smells like shit. But fuck it, it was a good morning. I saw a three piece mariachi band on the subway yesterday.

I didn’t even drink yesterday. I came home and went to get beer and ended up in the shower and then my ass was sleep. I guess a byproduct of waking up early but I think the whole thing is I’m ready to write some shit down that forms a cohesive pattern. Some kind of story.

Robert McKee, who until recently I only know from that movie Adaptation, says in his book Story:

Mere occurrence brings us nowhere near the truth. What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.

I never thought I gave a shit too much about truth but I think I just had the wrong idea about the definition.

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.

Oh My Legs

Ah shit it hurts like the dickens. God damn it hurts like a mother fucker.

I decided it wasn’t what I thought. What I thought was that I never give myself time to sit around and do nothing and just be and do something that I like doing and relax and so on. It’s the opposite. I have too much of that and I just get morose and shit, and I should just fucking do my shit. Just do some stuff. I decided that a few days ago. Now I’m tired as shit. I feel like a hobo on a one way train to Harnatha.

It was a bad idea what I did yesterday, which was eat at four, work like a mother fucker, get home at 2 and then leave to bike to work not eat anything until today at 10 AM. Biking to work was a real bitch like that. I felt like I was going to die. I got to eat. I ordered some protein powder type stuff so hopefully I can just drink that the whole time I’m at work since I obviously don’t get lunch breaks and such.

Ah shit. But I’ve been trying to get away from writing, too, and blogging in particular. I don’t know I guess I started to feel like I was addicted. I’m scared of addiction I guess.

I’m not sure if my latest idea to just do more work is good or bad. The first day was awesome, but the second day was just ok. Today I didn’t have time to do anything because I just worked all day and now I’m home and GF is away at a culinary party so of course I’m just sitting around eating bad food and not doing anything that I should or don’t want to because fuck it I rarely come home before twelve and usually just have to go straight to sleep.

Don’t know what else to say right now, though I thought I was just going to write and write and write. I guess I should just stop thinking about that and just write whatever dumb shit comes to mind. I guess I’ll do that next time.

The Scrapers Part III

The scrapers are out again. The sidewalks are clear and with temperatures going up to forty or so today the streets will run with the blood of the snow.

But the old lady is out there scraping scraping scraping.

She looked up as I passed.

“Hello,” I said. She said as much and then I asked how she was doing.

She answered, “I’ll be dead by the end of this!”

She kind of looked at me like I should help her. But I’m pretty sure that’s not even her sidewalk, and the pile she was scraping was well off to the side, pretty much a non-issue.

I laughed and said, “What are you doing?”

“Getting ready for the next one!” she said.

I started moving away. “Good luck Madame!”

She didn’t reply and I walked on quickly.

Well, I guess we’re all just getting ready for the next one anyway. The only time we really live is in the middle of the next one. Or something like that.

Three Hours of Buzzfeed

Oh yes. Three hours. Straight. Unintended. Just sat down to GF’s computer to write and there was a tab open to Buzzfeed.com. I just had to read this list. Then that list and another fucking list for three fucking hours! Shit!

I did read some interesting articles. On from Esquire all about Ashton Kutcher. And another in The Atlantic all about rich girls and their husbands. And no matter how funny my writing is I’ll probably never laugh at it like I did when I saw this.

And that’s a real bitch. How am I going to be out here trying to be entertaining when there are websites like Buzzfeed everywhere, and The Atlantic and Esquire are posting their articles for free?

Damn it. We’re all writers now. There isn’t just a pile of books somewhere out there that we wish we had all the time in the world to read. Now there’s a whole damn internet that one day of could take us a hundred years to read. And that’s if there wasn’t any dishes to wash in between articles.

Of course we just have to remember that we can’t do everything. To just enjoy the things that we do. Well, shit. It’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to get caught in the maelstrom of interesting things. The whole world is the Party of Special Things to Do.

But I’ve been sitting in this chair for three hours and that’s proven to cause all kinds of shit that’s related to early death and permanent discomfort.

And the longer I sit the harder it is to get up. And the more the confusion and cloudiness returns. I have all kinds of stuff to eat in the fridge, but it’s so far away from this chair and my portal, my rectangle full of the whole god damn world.

So much entertainment can be got for free. You don’t even have to pay for internet. You could just go to the library where you’re surrounded by a universe of information that you’ll never make a dent in. Son of a bitch it all feels like so much nothing.

Live for yourself

You will die in vain

Live for others

You will live again

But this is one twisted kingdom of Jah, so who knows if we can even trust that. Damn it.

Pay no mind, it’s only me feeling like a frenetic jumble of synapses all melting slowly into an oversized overstuffed recliner.

We Know Time

It was drizzling and mysterious at the beginning of our journey. I could see that it was all going to be one big saga of the mist. “Whooee!” yelled Dean. “Here we go!” And he hunched over the wheel and gunned her; he was back in his element, everybody could see that. We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Hell yeah, they knew time. And we know time. And I know I’ve got nine minutes until I really should start getting these V-Day preparations out of the way.

Yes these days really are passing quite strangely, what with this new way of perceiving them as transient, rather than “every morning a little birth, every night a little death,” which is a quote from somewhere I forget.

It is drizzling and mysterious in my head. One big saga of mist, it has been. But we’re all delighted, and the confusion and nonsense of the night before is behind us, and somewhere far ahead of us in the same sense, and all there is left to do is to move.

Time comes and time goes and everything really is strange and wild. The night comes but it is gone in the morning, only to come back again. It is nothing. It is physics. But anyhow it’s all vanished into so much soreness in the legs.

And so will pass the night ahead of us, since already it is behind us.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. As hideous as it is, I, too, have found it to be true.

To move, to move, to be in motion, that’s what time is, that’s how time goes, and that’s how we avoid time, and though we can never be friends, we can wave as we pass on the street.

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

What I’ve Learned So Far About Blogging and Life

Readability Index: Unreadable Due to Length

Alright what I’m going to try to do here is create a unique field theory…I mean a unified field theory of blogging by me. A unified field theory of my life and what blogging means to it. What has writing this blog done to me over the last week and how can I make it useful to my life. How can I enjoy it more fully. How can I do something…how can I feel good about it.

Well, like the first time I started blogging on this mother fucker, I’ve got The National keyed up. Playing “Anyone’s Ghost” over and over again. Great song. I can lose myself in the rhythm of it.

Sometimes I feel like cursing and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I feel nice and sometimes I’m itchy. Someone just called me. I hate phones because they interrupt everything. People are mad at me all the time because I don’t pick up my phone. But I can’t plan for that shit. I don’t know how they made it back in the day with regular phones just ringing all the time and you couldn’t even see who was calling. Screening your calls meant listening to the answering machine.

But that’s all beside the point of course.

I washed the dishes and ate another muffin. I should eat again before I go to work. I was thinking I should enjoy work and stop dreading leaving the house, but that’s just part of me, dreading leaving the house, I can have as much fun as I want when I get out there but the next day I’ll be dreading it all over again. Much like taking a shower.

I still feel like this blog is a kind of fleeting addiction. I have them all the time. Sometimes I’m really into drawing, or basketball, or wine, or…well anything. The one activity I have done throughout my life is writing. So maybe that bodes well for the blog. Because this is a good kind of writing. A kind of writing that motivates me to keep writing. I really like just spitting out my thoughts. And the craziest thing about it is that people read it. It’s there for people to read, like a well dressed pamphlet fluttering down a busy street, but unlike the pamphlet that gets stomped on and waved away and stuck to car bumpers, this blog gets read by people from all over the world. They take time to read the words that came straight out of my head, without any revision or intense labor over them. It’s crazy to me that people like to read that much. Now I like to read that much, but I never thought that so many other people did. It’s the difference between knowing something and feeling it, is something I always say. I know that people are like me, but I don’t feel it.

But along with the addiction idea, is the feeling that perhaps this isn’t healthy. Perhaps I should be going outside and running around, or cleaning the house, or getting a part time job, or toiling away at writing a novel. This is just a part of how I feel about everything except actual paid by the hour work, the feeling that I should be doing something else, that I could be doing something more productive at that moment. The times I snap out of this feeling are usually when I consider that some people don’t have any time or any choice of what they do at any time of the day. A man with no lets can’t decide to cut his toenails, and a starving child can’t decide whether to eat coconut almond muffins or just skip lunch. So that usually gets me focused back on the crazy thing about my life which is that I have the world available to me, as unfair as that may be to other people.

And I use the word crazy too much. It’s kind of a catch all for things I don’t understand or can’t grasp, as well as something I aspire to, like ‘damn that dude is crazy!’

So I don’t want to feel like this is an addiction. Something I think about all the time, that I can’t wait to get back to, that I’m unhappy if I’m not doing it…unless I do want to feel like that. Isaac Asimov felt like that about writing fiction and I’ve always admired him. A lot of people say about writers: “If you can’t not write, then you’re a writer.” I’ve always replied, “well I guess I’m not a writer because I could sleep all day, wake up drink and watch Downton Abbey reruns and I won’t be worried about a damn bit of writing.” Writing is usually something I do because I’m good at it and I like it. Not because I need it. But maybe being addicted to this blog will be like needing to write, which would then put me in the company of great writers, which would then perhaps make me a great writer.

The most wonderful thing about this blog, and I mean wonderful in the truly literal sense as in it creates within my mind a great sense of…wonder…is that I have been able to in some way make at least one person’s life a little more interesting. It’s really weird, actually, to have the effect on someone through writing. I like to think that I make people’s lives better in general when I know them, because I’m hardworking and nice and charming; but it’s super weird to think that my writing has affected someone I don’t know outside of the written word relationship of blogging. Of course I’ve always known that that was what writing is all about, but I didn’t feel it. And when I say feel and know, of course they are happening in the same place, in the mind with the chemicals and neural pathways and all that, I’m really differentiating between theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. In theory writing is communication with other minds…but I’ve never before felt the practical application of that knowledge. Just had to make a note for those Ayn Rand types who would laugh at my use of the word “feel.” Ah see, sometimes I worry about impressions for long periods of time without even realizing it. Then again, you can’t say you’re not thinking about the impression you’re making if you’re writing for people to look at it. You’re writing expressly to create an impression, whether in your own mind or someone else’s. What I don’t want to do at least on this blog is to worry that I’m making the wrong impression. Because as I’ve stated before I spend most of m life doing that.

The practical uses of this blog, and by that what I mean to say (or meantersay, as Joe Gargery would say) is the uses of the blog that I would be happy with even if no one ever saw it, are numerous. Being namely that words look pretty on this blog, my thoughts are organized with tags and categories, and even while I’m typing this information is being saved on the internet so that even if my computer should spontaneously combust, I would not lose any of this. So those are good things. Before I started blogging I would write this kind of random bullshit gibberish, but I would save it on a Word document. I would lose all those with my computer. Also with this infinite display of the articles in reverse chronological order, I can more easily reread these posts than I can read all those word documents that are separated and whatnot.

Hm yes but what is the overall idea. What is the purpose? Of course, we all know how I feel about the purpose of life. Since we’re doomed it really doesn’t matter what we do. Except that we can’t. But that’s a load of horseshit.

What then is the difference between bullshit and horseshit?

I do want to create something of value. And I do love writing in this extemporaneous style. Revisions have always been a bitch to me. I have always thought of art as revision, controlling the impression you’re making on people. And that’s well and good. You can’t have a wonderful novel like Freedom without revision. You can’t have an awesome movie like Spartacus without editing. Hm but maybe you can have an incredible novel like On the Road if you practice writing a lot a lot and fill your head jam packed with experiences and information and then sit down at your computer with a gallon of coffee and type for a week straight.

Maybe I will write something in the vein of On the Road, with a Hunter S Thompson slant, with a subject that is truth, that is not fictitious. I will be like Chuck Klosterman, perhaps. The more I blog the more I like that mother fucker and I never once really thought about it before, except right after I got done reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. I’d pretty much forgotten about him until it came up while I was commenting on someone else’s blog and now I find myself quoting him a lot. And what he does is pretty cool. He talks about the world we live in in a funny way. And an insightful way. I bet I could do something like that at least 10 percent as good as him if I really worked at it.

I think my style of writing is pretty engaging. If I were to talk about something people cared about, I think at least some people would find that worthwhile. Hrmph well…shit

Breath(e)

Readability Index: Strangely Readable

Well. That story didn’t look as intense as I thought it would. For some reason while I was writing it I was getting really hyped up about the whole thing. I feel that I have failed to convey my outrage.

Nevertheless, I am breathing now. And I will forget the man who interrupted me, and remember the man who is my brother, who has a little girl and a wife, and likes to eat food while drinking grapefruit juice, and the man who is an amalgation of starstuff, as Carl Sagan would say, and the man who is a thousand worlds, as Neil Gaiman might say.

Yes. I am at one with the universe, which is myself, and therefore how could I ever be not that. If I could be at two with the universe. Or at odds.

But I am not either of those.

I am one and so are you. We are two. Who are one. With the interrupting man.

And my girlfriend, who keeps interrupting my thoughts while she makes muffins. It is 12:42 at night and we are about to eat some fresh muffins. Got to love that!

“Want to listen to French music?” she asks.

She. Is. Crazy.

And there is a shit ton of dishes to do.

And she is interrupting my thinking!

Ahck.

Nope, just going to breath(e) while the weird French music plays.

I love her. She is myself. And I am obsessed with her (myself).

I am obsessed. With myself.

And the muffins need more time.

Just going to breathe…breathe in the nature of the universe and breathe out the nature of God. Count the name of God aloud and…sink into the depths of love and brother feeling.

And sister feeling.

Sounds like a couple of things one might get in trouble for.

I am so calm and smooth like limestone from the Haut Cotes de Beaune. I am so smooth like worn limestone. I can feel Michelangelo shaping my left toe. And it is so cold that I am the cold and the hot and the candle on the table. I am the shirt that I am wearing. And more importantly, the shirt is me. And I am obsessed with this shirt.